Vehicle lifts did thousands more tests than recommended

By Michael McHugh, PA

Faulty vehicle lifts in Northern Ireland did thousands more MOT tests than manufacturers recommended, an independent report said.

New equipment was purchased after cracks discovered in 52 out of 55 of the existing machines led to large numbers of roadworthiness checks being cancelled.

The defects were caused by "fatigue", engineers said.

Another report found that the overall standard of record management observed within the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) was less than satisfactory.

A review said: "The lifts have clearly undertaken significantly more than the 22,000 design load cycles."

Inspections have been undertaken every six months.

Use of the lifts equated to approximately 150,000-160,000 cycles since their installation in 2011/2012, a report said.

The manufacturer's operating instructions said its standard version was designed for 22,000.

It said the maximum period of normal use in relation to the possible product life expectancy should be evaluated and scheduled by a qualified person during the annual safety inspection.

The engineering company behind the review added: "WYG would recommend that all lifts exhibiting signs of fatigue are taken out of service and replaced.

"We would not advocate any short-term localised repairs due to the presence of fatigue in the scissor legs around the pivot."

In many instances, remedial works in the form of steel plates had been welded onto the lifts, preventing a thorough inspection.

Another recently-published report from the Civil Service's internal audit team identified several instances where key discussions and decisions were not formally documented.

"We consider that, although the standard of record management in certain areas such as fault logging / H&S (health and safety) was of a good standard, the overall standard of record management observed was generally less than satisfactory."

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the review raised important questions around DVA's approach to some aspects of its lift maintenance and inspection regime, including in relation to setting target dates and timescales.

She added: "They need careful attention so that lessons are learned and to prevent such disruption to the public from ever happening again.

"It is also concerning that the report finds that the overall standard of record management observed within DVA was less than satisfactory.

"That is not acceptable, not least given the recent focus on the importance of good record keeping."

The new lifts are now ready for installation on a phased basis but all MOT centres were offered to the NHS for use as Covid-19 testing centres, the minister said.

She warned: "This has meant that the replacement programme requires very careful management and new lifts will only be installed in those centres that the Department of Health and the Trusts have confirmed will not be required as part of our Covid-19 response.

"If, at some later point after lifts have been installed, those centres are needed I have assured the health minister and our health care workers that the offer still stands and that they will have priority use of our MOT centres for the duration of this crisis."

More from Q Radio Local News


Join the Thank Q Club

Sign up for the Thank Q Club and receive exclusive offers, fun competitions and amazing prizes - it's quick and easy to do!

Sign Up Log In

Listen on the go

Download the Q Radio app to keep listening, wherever you are! It's available on Apple and Android devices.

Download from the App Store Download from Google Play