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Developed and maintained by the NFCC


Gaining access to machine rooms and shafts

Hazard Knowledge

Machine rooms may be situated in remote parts of the premises and under normal circumstances should be locked and secured. These areas may have restricted access or space, which will need to be considered when performing a rescue. Crews should anticipate that unsecure lift rooms in publically accessible buildings may contain drug paraphernalia, human and animal excrement.

For lifts, these rooms can be either at the top or bottom of the building depending on the type of lift machinery.

In the case of escalators, machine rooms will normally be at the top of the escalator either under a floor trap (for small escalators, such as those in shops) or, in larger premises (such as those used in transport systems) a separate room will be used. On railway premises such as London Underground, access is usually available at both the top and the bottom of the escalator.

Personnel requiring access to machine rooms will generally have to either ascend or descend stairs. They may also have to climb unprotected vertical ladders and pass through access panels. There is a risk of collision with fixed objects when moving around machine rooms.

Machine rooms may have trapdoors and hatches, be on different levels, and will often have displaced lubricants on the floor. This may require implementing additional measures to maintain safe access and egress.

There is a risk of falling from height when ascending or descending unprotected vertical ladders or when working near or inside an open lift shaft. Some machine rooms may require personnel to cross roofs without edge protection, thereby increasing the likelihood of falls from height.

The risks associated with gaining access to a machine room may be increased by the conditions inside; noise, heat and lack of lighting.

Machinery incidents may involve or create working environments where there is minimal headroom and space to manoeuvre. Any available space may be further restricted by the use of fire service equipment or items of machinery that have been left on the floor during maintenance operations.