Northern Ireland MOT Chaos - Are There Lessons To Be Learnt?
Being as heavily involved as we are, in the supply, maintenance and calibration of MOT equipment, we have been very interested in the recent story that has unfolded in Northern Ireland regarding failure of lifts at their MOT centres. It would be easy to use the negative PR that this story has generated for the supplier and manufacturer of the lifts to our advantage however we don't want to do that, as we are mindful of the scale of the problem and the impact it could have on public confidence and road safety.
If you are not aware, most tests for cars and light vehicles have been cancelled at Northern Ireland test centres after defective lifts were discovered. An inspection detected signs of cracking in 48 of 55 lifts. The problem was first known about in November but was only made public in recent weeks. Northern Ireland's Driver and Vehicle Agency warned repairs could take months and cost millions.
Since then there has been criticism of the inspection scheme that has been carried out by the supplier of the lifts, which were installed in 2011/12. The MOT situation in Northern Ireland is that one organisation carries out MOT testing on behalf of the government and a contract was awarded to one company for the supply and inspection of testing equipment, including vehicle lifts. Whereas in England, Scotland and Wales, individual, privately owned garages provide MOT testing services and they are free to source and procure equipment of their choosing, as long as it meets the technical specifications and approvals defined by the DVSA. The benefits of this are operators of MOT stations have a choice of where to buy from and can benchmark with like-minded business owners over which is the best equipment to go with. As an equipment supplier, although this means there is plenty of competition, we appreciate the fact that many of our MOT equipment orders are received after our clients have researched the market and heard good things about our products.
What concerns us about the Northern Ireland story though is we have read comments recently from industry representatives criticising the equipment inspection scheme in Northern Ireland but seeming to infer that this situation could never happen with MOT lifts used in England, Scotland and Wales because rigorous inspections of equipment are carried out with comprehensive reports produced. In many cases this is true but from our experience we so often find this is not the case. We provide garage equipment inspection, maintenance and calibration services and have many clients of various sizes from small independent businesses to large groups and local authorities, but we often find when it comes to independent MOT centres, it can be difficult to convince people of the need to have the MOT lift inspected and maintained. MOT centre operators do not doubt the need to have brake testers, headlamp testers, play detectors and emissions analysers calibrated in order to meet DVSA requirements, keep their facility testing and earning money, but there can be a reluctance to add their lift to the list of inspect-able items. The problem is, lack of inspections of a lift will not stop them testing. Unless of course, the lift were to fail due to lack of maintenance and be unusable.
Garages should ensure their lifts are thoroughly examined every six months. As with all equipment, lifts will deteriorate over time, which can result in dangerous situations. Inspections can lead to early identification of problems and could reduce the risk of costly rectification in the future, or even sudden and unsafe failure of the equipment. Thorough examinations should be carried out by a competent person.
It should be noted that examination of lift equipment is not the same as preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance may include the replacement of worn or damaged parts, topping up fluid levels and making routine adjustments to ensure risks are avoided. Regular thorough examination should ensure that maintenance is being carried out properly but is not intended to replace it.
We provide both inspection and maintenance services for our clients and help keep their MOT bays running by providing meaningful reports on the condition of their equipment, helping them to avoid costly repairs and downtime. We hope the problems found with lifts in the Northern Ireland MOT centres will not occur with the same lift models in England, Scotland and Wales, but if anything is to be learnt about the Northern Ireland MOT crisis, it is that regular thorough inspections and comprehensive maintenance of lifts is essential.
If you would like to know more about our lift inspection and maintenance services please call us on 01670 516816 or email email@example.com
UK lift standards and regulations
- British Standard 7980:2012 covers the installation, maintenance, thorough examination and safe use of vehicle lifts.
- British Standard EN 1493 is a European standard that applies to stationary, mobile and movable vehicle lifts. It applies only to lifts which are not intended to lift persons, but which are designed to raise vehicles totally, for the purpose of examining and working on or under the vehicles whilst in a raised position.
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).