20 April 2020

Care Homes - Statutory Inspections

By Eliot Clarke

With the spread of Covid-19 through the care home sector, Aston Lark has received numerous enquires as to whether there has been a relaxation in the statutory inspections or thorough examinations required by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

The HSE has recently released a statement which can be viewed here.

The main points are:

  • The law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place.
  • The overarching legal obligation remains, i.e. ensure that equipment is safe to use.
  • If you experience problems in undertaking scheduled thorough examinations as you can’t access inspection services, you should adopt a risk-based process to determine whether there are steps you can take to safely continue to use equipment (that has not had its scheduled TE&T) or decide to stop using the equipment.
  • Equipment should only be used outside of its test regime if you can demonstrate that it is critical for essential work and that it can still be operated safely.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to have the TE&T carried out, made a thorough assessment of the increased risk and taken appropriate action to manage it.
  • Engineers have been instructed to focus their resource/expertise on equipment in premises where the most vulnerable are located such as hospitals, care homes and infrastructure which is essential to the running of the country.
  • Companies and engineers must cooperate to ensure compliance with Public Health England advice regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances.

With this in mind, and due to the potential shortage of engineers during and after lockdown, care homes should make themselves fully aware of which inspections fall due in the next 3-4 months and start planning works with their engineering inspection companies.

It may be better to try and get equipment inspected prior to its renewal date rather than risk no inspection at all and the equipment being put out of operation.
Contractor safety on site

To help protect engineers coming to the care home, and its staff and residents, consideration of the following guidance should be made:

  • Ensure arrival times have been agreed with the engineer. Do they know where to report to and who they are meeting?
  • Ensure the engineer is aware of all new site rules before they attend the site. What segregation measures have been introduced? Do you have new PPE requirements? Are there now areas that the contractor will not be permitted to enter?
  • Ensure the engineer has the PPE / cleaning materials with them before allowing them to start work.
  • Ensure the site induction is recorded in some way.
  • Ensure your staff are made aware of the presence of a contractor on site.
  • Where possible, limit the area the contractor can work in, or segregate them from your staff and residents.
  • Where possible, clean the work area / equipment before and after the engineer has undertaken work.

Remember, engineers will be instructed by their employers to carry out a dynamic risk assessment when they reach your premises. If they feel that you have not undertaken sufficient measures to protect their health, they may refuse to carry out the work.

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