The HSE introduced legal requirements for lifting equipment and lifting operations in 1961. Since then they have been constantly updated and amended to suit modern day industry. The current regulations are the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) which came into force on 5 December 1998 and work alongside the more general Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. These regulations aim to reduce risks to peoples’ health and safety from lifting equipment provided for use at work. In addition to the requirements of LOLER, lifting equipment is also subject to the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).
Lifting equipment includes any equipment used at work for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting a load. The Regulations cover a wide range of equipment including, cranes, fork-lift trucks, lifts, hoists, mobile elevating work platforms, and vehicle inspection platform hoists. The definition also includes lifting accessories such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. LOLER does not apply to escalators, these are covered by more specific legislation, ie the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. If you allow employees to provide their own lifting equipment, then this too is covered by the Regulations. If you are an employer or self-employed person providing lifting equipment for use at work, or you have control of the use of lifting equipment, then the Regulations will also apply to you.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the requirements of LOLER are met with using any lifting equipment. For example, you should ensure that all lifting equipment is sufficiently strong, stable and suitable for the proposed use. Similarly, the load and anything attached to it (eg timber pallets, lifting points) must be suitable, positioned or installed to prevent the risk of injury (eg from the equipment or the load falling or striking people), and visibly marked with any appropriate information to be taken into account for its safe use (eg safe working loads) Accessories, eg slings, clamps etc, should be similarly marked.
Additionally, you must ensure that:
- lifting operations are planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner by people who are competent;
- where equipment is used for lifting people it is marked accordingly, and it should be safe for such a purpose (eg all necessary precautions have been taken to eliminate or reduce any risk);
- where appropriate, before lifting equipment (including accessories) is used for the first time, it is thoroughly examined. Lifting equipment may need to be thoroughly examined in use at periods specified in the Regulations (ie at least six-monthly for accessories and equipment used for lifting people and, at a minimum, annually for all other equipment) or at intervals laid down in an examination scheme drawn up by a competent person. All examination work should be performed by a competent person; and
- following a thorough examination or inspection of any lifting equipment, a report is submitted by the competent person to the employer to take the appropriate action.