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Lifts in private residences


Home owners

Lifts in private residence are small in size, slow in speed and have travel restrictions. They are designed for a specific purpose and can vary in the way they look and operate. In most cases they are contained within a lift shaft although some may travel along a stairway as a platform or a seat.

Purchasing a lift

As the home owner you should be well informed about the type and model of the lift design, otherwise you may be left with a lift that doesn’t meet your needs.

Before committing to the installation of a lift, you should ask the lift supplier:

  • about the safety features of the lift
  • about their after sales service arrangements for servicing and breakdowns (ask to see a lift they have installed and speak to the home owner about the service they received)
  • what arrangements are in place in case you become trapped, such as contacts, response time and entry to the home
  • if they have a copy of the design registration (usually in the form of a certificate)
  • if they will take care of the item of plant registration process
  • if they are familiar with the South Australian WHS legislation relevant to lifts.

Lift registration

Each individual lift must have an PDF icon item of plant registration and comply with South Australian requirements before it can be placed into service. As the lift owner, you are responsible for the item of plant registration. In most cases, the lift company will submit the documentation including the fee to SafeWork SA on your behalf.

Ongoing registration requirements

The registration fee for a lift in a private residence only applies when the lift is first registered. Lifts must be re-registered every 5 years but there is no ongoing fee. This does not include any fees that a lift company may apply for ongoing service and repair to the lift.

You will receive an invoice from SafeWork SA before the renewal date. The invoice will have no fee attached to it. The invoice includes a declaration which you must sign and return to SafeWork SA to renew the registration for a further 5 years.

By signing the declaration, you are declaring that the lift is being maintained and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and is safe to operate. In absence of the manufacturer’s instructions, a competent person may be engaged to assess the frequency of the examination and testing, but this period must not exceed 12 months from the date of installation.

Lift design registration

Every lift installed in South Australia must have an Australian design registration and comply with South Australian legislation, this includes lifts manufactured overseas. The WHS legislation may vary between States and Territories and item of plant registration may be refused in South Australia even though the design registration is recognised in Australia.

PDF icon Design registration involves both a Designer and a Design Verifier before registration can be approved.

The designer must be satisfied through engineering calculations that all the lift devices such as the machines, ropes and sheaves are at the appropriate level of safety in accordance with the published technical standards or engineering principles being used. The designer must be satisfied that the design is safe and declare that they “have complied with the designers obligations under Section 22 of the WHS Act 2012 (SA) in respect to the design of the plant.”

A design verifier is a person who is suitably qualified and meets the definition of a competent person within the WHS Regulations 2012. The Verifier has the important role of determining through their own assessment that the design is in accordance with the designers’ instructions and published technical standards or engineering principles. They must also declare that “they were not involved in the production of the design; and that the design was produced in accordance with the published technical standards and/or engineering principles specified in the designer’s statement and documents.”

Once a design is registered, there is no restriction on the number of lifts that can be manufactured, provided they comply with the design registration. The registration holder must ensure the design registration number is provided with each supplied lift.

Alteration to a design

When a lift is first design registered, the design is based on certain criteria and specifications that set a minimum level of safety. If the level of safety is altered and requires new risk control measures, then an PDF icon application for the alteration must be submitted to SafeWork SA.

Examples of some changes that may affect the level of safety include:

  • changes to speed
  • number of ropes
  • traction method
  • load capacity
  • size of car
  • travel
  • particular configuration of the lift system.

Any alterations, including replacement parts, must be compliant to the latest requirements.

Replacement parts

Motor replacement

If a motor has malfunctioned, requires replacement, and is replaced with a like for like motor then this constitutes a repair and not an alteration. No alteration to a design application is required. Like for like may include a motor with the same specifications from a different manufacturer. This may happen if an identical motor is not available due to age.

If however, the replacement motor increases the speed, loading, capacity, or alters the level of safety from the original design, then notification of the alteration is required. In most cases other related parts of the lift system would similarly require alteration.

Wire rope replacement

This is generally considered a repair and not an alteration. No alteration to a design application is required.

If however, the number or size of the wire rope was altered (and therefore the level of safety is altered) an application for design alteration must be lodged with SafeWork SA.

Lift controller replacement

If the safety function and risk control measures of the new controller are like for like with the old, then no notification is required. Like for like may include a controller with the same specifications from a different manufacturer. For example: if an old relay type controller is being changed to a microprocessor type controller, the new controller must be assessed against the risk control measures of the old controller.

However, in most cases, a new controller will incorporate additional safety features which are monitored or controlled in a different manner to the old. This could include the addition of a variable frequency drive. In instances where safety features have changed, an application for design alteration must be submitted to SafeWork SA.

Each controller replacement must be assessed individually and on a case by case basis. In addition, most new controllers will involve some additional alteration to the lift system.

When replacing a controller, you should consider if:

  • there is an increased risk to safety due to the mode of control being used
  • the safety inputs and outputs to the new controller have changed
  • there are additional control measures being utilised to monitor the speed, loading and operation of the lift such as tachos, encoders, variable frequency drives
  • the speed, loading, travel, height have been altered
  • the control of the safety circuit has changed.

Item of plant registration

In most cases the company installing the lift will submit the PDF icon Item of Plant application and supporting documentation to SafeWork SA on behalf of the owner or the person with management or control (if a workplace), it is important to know who will take responsibility for the documentation and payment of the fee.

The application for item of plant registration must include the following:

  • a completed PDF icon application including payment
  • a “Safe to Operate” certificate issued by a competent person
  • the commissioning report detailing all the data recorded during the commissioning process
  • a copy of the design registration certificate
  • the signature of the owner of the lift (not the installer).

Once the application has been processed, SafeWork SA will send the owner a certificate of registration which contains the registration number. You must display the registration number on or near the lift (usually inside the lift car).

The registration is valid for a five year period. An invoice to enable renewal will be sent before the registration expires.

Commissioning report

A commissioning report contains the technical information from the final set up of a lift. The type and extent of the tests are based on the manufacturer’s instructions and the mandatory requirements from the technical design Standard.

This may include:

  • speed and over speed settings
  • load and over load settings
  • governor settings
  • safety gear settings
  • governor pull through/safety gear pull on settings
  • car rail slides based on the type of safety gear being used and the speed of the lift
  • buffer tests
  • pit and overhead clearances
  • shaft and landing clearances
  • hydraulic pressure and overpressure settings
  • testing results from all safety features
  • electrical tests

Some components used in the lift installation are pre-calibrated or pre-set from the manufacturer to assist in the overall installation. Whilst this is a time saver it does not negate component testing during the commissioning process. Settings can be affected due to handling or transport, or not correctly set in the beginning. It is vitally important that all pre-set components are verified for correct operation.

The type and usage of a lift will determine the extent of information that the commissioning report contains. A high speed lift, for example, in a multi-story building will contain significantly more information than a 2 story private resident lift. There is no standard template for a commissioning report, each lift company develops their own based on the type of lift.

The commissioning report provides evidence that all the appropriate tests have been conducted and the results are in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the technical Standard applicable.