A qualified and experienced lift maintenance engineer suffered fatal injuries while working in a lift shaft earlier this year. The engineer was working near the ground floor in the confines of the lift shaft. From the investigation it appears that the inadvertent operation of a pit stop switch may have caused the lift to reset. The lift car returning to the ground level caused fatal injuries to the engineer.


It is recommended that PCBUs review all procedures for conducting work within lift shafts. This review must consider the duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and associated Regulations.

The first choice when working in a lift shaft should be to deactivate the lift by a Lock out/Tag out procedure therefore eliminating the risk that the lift may reset. If this procedure cannot be used for the particular work being accomplished, an effective procedure to minimise the risk is to have two independent means of stopping the lift car, which should be used and verified.

Inspections should be undertaken, by a competent person, as soon as possible (or at the latest, at the time of the next annual inspection) of the condition and location of stop switches.

Stop switches should be positioned to ensure they are not susceptible to accidental operation by workers.

There are many other risks facing lift maintenance workers and these must also be managed. Refer to the WorkSafe website for further information on managing work risks.

Current guidance

Building Act 2004.(external link)

Manufacturing Standards:

  • NZS 4332: Non-Domestic Passenger and Goods Lifts
  • AS 1735.2: Lifts, Escalators and Moving Walks – passenger and Goods Lifts – Electric.
  • EN 81: Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts.

Worksafe further action

WorkSafe will be engaging with key stakeholders to review widely used work procedures, and to discuss proven control measures, so that improvements can be made to ensure the health and safety of workers.

WorkSafe also intends to, in collaboration with industry, review the Voluntary Code of Practice (developed by NZLEA and endorsed by OSH in 1999) and ensure that this is revised as necessary.

Until as such time as this review of the Voluntary Code of Practice has been undertaken, WorkSafe no longer endorses the existing Voluntary Code of Practice


Technical Bulletin: working in lift shafts (PDF 39 KB)