The Association of Loading
and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers

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Scheduling safety

Continuing the series of articles from The Association of Loading and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers (ALEM), Martin Paynter , managing director of member company Stertil UK Limited stresses the importance of planned maintenance to ensure that loading bay equipment operates both safely and efficiently.

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Regular maintenance of loading bay equipment is vital to ensure safe and efficient operation, but there’s also a legal obligation to keep your equipment up to scratch. It can be difficult to keep on top of regulation compliance and that’s where an industry association like ALEM (Association of Loading and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers) really proves its worth. If your loading bay’s supplied and maintained by an ALEM member, you can rest assured that your equipment will not only perform well, it will comply with legal requirements too.

Maintenance is an easy target when cost-cutting. You need to find a reasonably-priced maintenance contractor who will ensure compliance with all the necessary legislation – but how? A list of ALEM members will offer many options for suppliers who match these requirements.

The list of regulations relevant to loading bays is not short. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. Health and safety regulations have been expanded over recent years to include the maintenance of industrial doors, dock levellers and lift tables. Regular, competent maintenance of equipment is mandatory, as are accurate records of that maintenance.

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 not only call for industrial doors to be kept in good working order, they also state that specific safety features, such as emergency stop buttons and anti-fall devices, should be fitted to doors.

Lifting equipment regulations were updated in 2008 and require equipment to be strong and stable; marked to indicate safe working loads; positioned to minimise risk; and subject to regular thorough inspection. Compliance is straightforward enough if you have a sensible maintenance programme with an ALEM member.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 include dock levellers and require firms to prevent health and safety risks to employees from equipment. Equipment should be suitable for the intended use; maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspected to ensure this is the case. Only users with adequate training should operate it and it should be accompanied by safety measures such as protective devices, markings and warnings. Although much of what’s contained in the regulations is common sense, compliance can only be assured with a regular maintenance regime.

So, you need to prevent costly breakdowns and comply with legislation – ALEM recommends a well- planned maintenance regime, but beware: every business and every site is different and each company will have its own particular requirements. Steer clear of ‘one size fits all’ solutions and look for a supplier who can tailor a maintenance package to suit you. This will ensure:
  • Flexible, fast response;
  • Quick and successful repairs;
  • Legal compliance.
Make a decision based on value, not cost alone – saving a few pounds on your routine maintenance is a false economy if your equipment suffers more expensive breakdowns as a result. Look at breakdown frequency: how much does it actually cost your business? What would it cost to lose a loading bay for a day? The answer to this question should drive your decision on the frequency, quality and ultimately, the value of your loading bay maintenance. Even the best-maintained equipment can fail, so it’s vital it can be repaired quickly. However, an engineer who arrives in minutes, but can’t get hold of the necessary parts for weeks, is not going to help you minimise downtime. Look for a company which can not only respond quickly, but also holds parts in stock and can complete repairs in a single visit. It’s one of ALEM’s stated aims to make both the industry and the end- user aware of how to comply with legislation and members must

Steer clear of ‘one size fits all’ solutions and look for a supplier who can tailor a maintenance package to suit you

themselves be committed to complying with all relevant European Standards, the UK Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations and CE marking. In return for this commitment, the Association offers support, technical expertise and an unrivalled position within the industry, both in Europe and at home. All of which makes ALEM a good place to start when planning the maintenance of your equipment.