It is often thought that a lift table is safe in use because it is CE-marked and fully compliant with EN 1570 (Safety requirements for lifting tables). This misunderstanding can impact employees’ health and safety, with all the consequential costs – human and financial – involved.

Understanding your installation – and your responsibilities

The first thing to do is to accept that ensuring your lift table is CE-marked is not the end of your responsibilities. Next, you need to analyze how your lift table interacts with its environment. This can be difficult, particularly for less expert buyers and engineers. Serious suppliers will guide you through this process, using their experience to identify hazards and offer appropriate solutions such as guard rails, gates, safety interlocks, etc. These are additional costs, but they are essential to a safe installation.

You should be aware that some suppliers treat lift tables as a commodity and leave the details of the installation to the customer. They may offer an attractive unit price for a CE-marked lift table, but you are not necessarily buying the safe installation you expect.

Common hazards in lift table installations

A lift table’s whole purpose is to create a difference in height. That could inadvertently create a hazard in your application, if it exposes employees to a drop of more than the legal limit (500 mm). The lift table itself may be ‘safe’ according to its CE-marking, but your installation will not.

In the real world, the lift table operates close to objects. You must maintain a safe space between them and the lift table to prevent injury and damage to people and goods. Again, you need to look beyond the lift table itself to understand all its interactions with its environment.

Poor visibility
This is a common problem, particularly in pit installations. Employees may step onto a lift table platform at floor level unaware that it may be lowered without warning. Or they may operate the lift table unaware that an engineer is working out of sight beneath the platform.

Unauthorized use
However well you train your people, however conscientious they are, unauthorized use can defeat all your best intentions. This is particularly important if your lift table operates in any kind of environment with public access. Inquisitive children are only the beginning of your challenges.

Expect more from your supplier

It is important to ask suppliers whether they can help you analyze the risks in your situation, leading to a total solution that covers your entire installation. VPG’s Joakim Paulsson comments that VPG takes a proactive approach. “We take the initiative when we receive an enquiry,” he says. “We ask the key questions that enable us to advise the customer on their whole installation, not just the lift table.”

“We find that some customers are surprised when we ask for more information. They are expecting the bare unit price they get from some other suppliers. But we are determined to give them the whole picture. And of course, that can involve additional costs. If this means we sometimes lose a sale, we are ready to accept that. We will not compromise on our customers’ safety.”

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