At ActivTec we are regularly called out onsite to repair ceiling hoists so we’ve put together a list of the 5 most common causes of breakdowns with ceiling hoists and how to prevent them.
1. Flat Batteries
When your ceiling hoist batteries are flat, not holding their charge or not charging at all, it can cause the ceiling hoist to stop working. It might also result in the ceiling hoist only being able to go down but not up. There are several causes for batteries to stop working.
When the battery is flat, it is usually because it hasn’t been charged, not been charged for long enough, or has not been charged routinely every day. Ceiling hoists are used in busy environments and care staff have many tasks to stay on top of. So, it’s common for the hoist to not be put back on charge, or to only be on charge for a small amount of time before it’s used again.
Batteries not holding their charge
If batteries are not charged properly, they will eventually lose their ability to fully charge and retain their charge. Batteries are designed to be fully charged each time and left on charge when not in use.
Batteries not charging
Another common issue is the battery not charging at all. This is usually due to a connection issue. For handset charge methods, the connections are inside the wire which connects the handset to the hoist motor. If this is pulled vigorously, these connections can loosen which stops it from charging. This can happen when the hoist unit is pulled by the handset. The docking charge methods can be subjected to heavy use at the end of the rail which can cause the connections to become damaged and stop working.
2. Emergency Stop Cord Pulled
When the emergency stop cord is pulled, it stops the hoist from moving and prevents any further operation. Staff can sometimes not realise that the hoist has stopped working because the cord has accidentally been pulled by someone.
3. Handset not Working
Every ceiling hoist is operated by a handset, no matter what charge method or how many functions it has. The handset can stop working completely, or it might have an intermittent issue, or some buttons may work but others won’t. Handsets are generally robust but they are in constant use. There are several causes of faulty handsets and unfortunately, they mostly occur through incorrect use. Common problems with handsets are people pulling or stretching the handset too much and the connections inside breaking or coming loose. This usually happens when the hoist unit is pulled along the rail by the handset, rather than using the lift tape or sling bar. Handsets are not designed to be used to pull the hoist along the rail.
Staff training is key to reducing this issue. Regular refresher training on how to use the specific hoist, as well as how to maintain it should help reduce this type of call out or need for replacing the handset. Hoists must not be pulled along by their handset and cord, even with nobody in the hoist. Depending on your hoist, you may have another hoist that uses the same handset which you can substitute to see if a different handset works before calling out a technician.
4. Ceiling Hoist Lift Tape Frayed
Ceiling hoists use lift tape to lift and lower the user. When the lift tape rubs up against the side of the hoist unit, it causes friction and the edges of the lift tape to fray. Over time this creates a safety issue. Lift tape is designed to move vertically up and down and not at an angle. During patient transfers however a user may be be slightly off centre which causes the lift tape to rub against the edges of the plastic casing of the ceiling hoist. The main cause of this issue is incorrect use when performing a transfer.
However, it might be that the ceiling hoist design and layout isn’t suitable for the room or user’s needs which can change over time. To reduce fray on your ceiling hoist lift tape, provide regular training to your staff on how to use the specific ceiling hoists within their work environment.
5. Overloading the Equipment
All ceiling hoists and tracks are designed to withstand a certain weight. This is called the Safe Working Load (SWL). If the equipment is overloaded, it causes damage as it’s working above its intended capacity. This puts excess pressure on the lift motor and batteries which over time can stop working.
The Safe Working Load applies to the lift, sling bar, sling and any other accessories used. The maximum load is always the lowest maximum load rating for any of the components used. For example, if the hoist unit is approved for 200kg but is equipped with a sling bar which is approved for 300kg, the maximum load of 200kg applies as this is the lowest rating.
The best way to prevent this problem from occurring is to ensure staff using the ceiling hoists are checking the safe working load every time they use it. This ensures the user’s weight, together with any accessories such as slings and hoist scales, do not exceed the safe working load which is marked on the equipment.
By preventing and reducing these common causes of breakdowns, your health care facility can reduce equipment downtime and lessen the need for call outs and repairs.
If your ceiling hoists are in need of maintenance contact us today to arrange a preventative maintenance schedule.