Simon Walker, Director of SJW Enviro Consulting Ltd, reminds people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment of their obligations regarding the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
Lifting operations can often put people at risk of injury, as well as incurring significant costs when they go wrong. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. LOLER ensures that all lifting equipment is used safely. Any business or organisation whose employees operate lifting equipment on the job must comply with these regulations, which come under the Health and Safety at Work Act and are enforced by the HSE for industrial workplaces and the local authority in most others.
Lifting equipment includes any equipment used at work for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. The regulations cover a wide range of equipment including, cranes, forklift 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 Regulations require:
- All lifting operations to be properly planned
- All lifting operations to be properly supervised
- All lifting equipment to undergo regular examinations by a competent person to ensure they are fit for purpose
- Equipment to be appropriately marked with its Safe Working Load (the maximum load the equipment can lift) as well as any other characteristics that might affect its safe use
- Records of each examination to be kept and available for scrutiny by the enforcing bodies
LOLER defines a competent person as someone who ‘has such appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge of lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment’. The competent person must also be impartial so they can be sufficiently objective in their review of the equipment. It is therefore recommended that an external contractor is hired to undertake the LOLER checks. This, in turn, ensures that there is no doubting the validity of the inspections should there be an accident on site and the HSE become involved.
Regulations require lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined by a competent person:
- Before it is first used
- Immediately after repair or replacement of an essential component
- Whenever it is removed and re-fitted to the original chassis
- Within six months of its last examination for lifting equipment used to lift people
- Within 12 months of its last examination for lifting equipment not used to lift people
In addition to the above, any equipment or accessories used to attach a load to lifting machinery, such as slings, chains or anchoring’s, need to undergo a thorough examination every 6 months.
The cost of breaching LOLER for organisations and individuals is significant:
- In 2016 a coach company in Wrexham were found to have 11 pieces of lifting equipment in need of inspection. Despite a notice to resolve the situation, the company failed to comply and were fined £250,000
- In 2012 two men were working inside the basket of a raised platform. During the work, a section of the main boom buckled, dropping the men 28 feet to the ground. One of the men died. The equipment had not been properly inspected, and the manager of the firm responsible for the equipment was sentenced to two years in prison
- A crane collapsed in Brixton, resulting in the crane driver falling to his death and a member of the public being crushed to death. The company was fined £750,00
There are many other examples of people losing their lives because of negligence and non-compliance with the regulations. So, whilst it may be seen as irksome and time-consuming to complete risk assessments or to adequately plan a lifting operation, this is nothing compared to the potential consequences of not following LOLER.
To find out more, please contact Simon on 07471 910102 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org