There is a host of regulation surrounding lifting equipment and keeping on top of compliance is essential for any company that deals in products like hoists to ensure they are safe and remain so during their lifetime.
Here, Lloyds British, part of the Speedy Hire Group, offers advice to trade professionals on ensuring compliance so that they stay on the right side of regulation.
What you need to know to ensure your lifting equipment is compliant
According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), lifting incidents account for 21% of all non-fatal accidents at work, with LOLER and PUWER in place to help ensure a safer working environment.
While the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) in particular has been effective at reducing lifting accident rates – with numbers falling by almost a third from its introduction in 1998 to 2003 – there is confusion regarding what these regulations cover and the responsibility that companies have to maintain their equipment.
What regulations does lifting equipment fall under?
PUWER (the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations), sets out requirements covering all types of ‘work equipment’ used on a daily basis in workplaces across the UK. This regulation places duties on people and companies who operate, own, or control work equipment.
The regulations require that all equipment provided for work is suitable for its intended use, maintained and inspected to ensure that it’s safe for use, used only by people who have received appropriate instruction and training, and accompanied by suitable health and safety measures.
Lifting equipment and accessories are also subject to LOLER, which adds additional health and safety requirements specifically for work equipment that lifts and lowers loads. LOLER requires that all lifting equipment is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task, suitably marked, and (in many cases) subject to regular statutory ‘thorough examinations’.
So, why is there confusion between these two regulations?
In almost all cases, lifting equipment is also classed as working equipment. This means that some lifting components are subject to both PUWER and LOLER regulations, while others only fall under PUWER guidelines.
This means equipment that plays an important role in lifting jobs is not necessarily checked as part of a LOLER thorough examination. All equipment, however, falls under PUWER guidelines, which means the owner still has obligations to ensure equipment is inspected to ensure it is safe for use.
Due to this overlap between LOLER and PUWER, individuals tend to interpret the regulations differently, which can be a problem for both employers and employees.
What are your regulatory obligations as a duty holder?
As the owners of lifting equipment, companies are considered to be the duty holder and are responsible for examining machinery and ensuring that any operatives are fully trained to use this equipment.
Statutory LOLER thorough examinations are required to be undertaken by a ‘competent person’ every six to twelve months, or in accordance with a Written Scheme of Examination. Lifting equipment used for people or accessories should be inspected every six months, while 12-month inspections are required for all other equipment not falling into these categories.
The legal obligations for PUWER, on the other hand, are not tied to specific time frames – instead, equipment that is exposed to conditions which lead to deterioration must be inspected at ‘suitable intervals’ depending upon the rate and risk of decline.
How to achieve compliance of lifting equipment in relation to maintenance, inspection and testing
To achieve compliance with both PUWER and LOLER, and ensure that all components are safe to use and fit for purpose, companies need to set out a clear policy for the maintenance, inspection and testing of lifting equipment.
A thorough examination should be carried out by a competent person who has appropriate practical and theoretical understanding of the lifting equipment. The person performing the inspection should be able to identify defects or weaknesses, and assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment
According to Rob Langford, head of national operational delivery at Lloyds British, the key to LOLER’s efficacy is the emphasis on planning before any lifting is carried out.
“This means ensuring that staff are fully trained on how to use lifting equipment safely, as well as making sure equipment is regularly inspected, tested and maintained,” he said.
Even with regular inspections, lifting accidents are often caused by misuse. To reduce these types of incidents, it’s important for companies to ensure their staff are trained to both use machinery safely and identify potential issues in the field.
For companies to comply with both LOLER and PUWER it’s essential to have an extensive policy that includes regular, detailed maintenance, inspection and testing, carried out by an expert who understands what components are covered by each set of regulations.