The Importance of Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations
Lifting operations and lifting equipment play a crucial role in various industries such as construction, manufacturing, and logistics. To ensure the safety of workers and prevent accidents, the United Kingdom introduced the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). These regulations set out specific requirements for the safe use of lifting equipment, the planning and execution of lifting operations, and the competence of personnel involved.
What are the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998?
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, commonly referred to as LOLER, are a set of regulations enacted by the UK government to ensure the safe use of lifting equipment and the proper execution of lifting operations. LOLER places responsibilities on employers, equipment users, and those responsible for the control of work premises to ensure compliance and prevent accidents.
LOLER covers a wide range of lifting equipment, including cranes, forklifts, hoists, and other machinery used for lifting or lowering loads. The regulations define lifting operations as activities involving the lifting or lowering of loads, suspending loads, or moving loads horizontally. By providing clear guidelines and requirements, LOLER aims to reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and damage associated with lifting operations.
Safety is key
The main purpose of the LOLER regulations is to keep users of lifting equipment safe while they are at work. The regulations were created in the spirit of ensuring that all individuals deserve a safe working environment and that nobody should be put at risk by doing their job. LOLER helps meet that obligation in this particular industry, and the regulations are a part of the wider remit of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Key Requirements of LOLER
- Thorough Examination and Inspection of Lifting Equipment
Under LOLER, employers are required to ensure that all lifting equipment is thoroughly examined and inspected by a competent person at regular intervals. The frequency of these examinations depends on the type of equipment and its intended use. The examinations assess the safety and suitability of the equipment, identifying any defects or issues that may compromise its integrity.
Employers must keep records of these examinations and inspections, documenting the results and any remedial actions taken. This ensures that the lifting equipment remains in a safe working condition and minimises the risk of accidents caused by equipment failure.
- Planning and Execution of Lifting Operations
LOLER emphasises the importance of planning and organising lifting operations to mitigate risks and ensure the safety of personnel involved. The regulations require employers to have a systematic approach to lifting operations, considering factors such as the weight and stability of the load, the condition of the equipment, and the competence of the personnel
Risk assessments must be conducted prior to lifting operations, identifying potential hazards and implementing control measures to minimise risks. This includes providing clear instructions to personnel involved, ensuring adequate training, and implementing appropriate safety measures, such as using suitable lifting accessories and personal protective equipment.
- Competence and Training
LOLER highlights the need for competent personnel to carry out lifting operations and operate lifting equipment safely. Employers must ensure that individuals involved in lifting operations are adequately trained, experienced, and competent to perform their duties.
Training should cover various aspects, including the safe use of lifting equipment, understanding the risks associated with lifting operations, and the proper execution of lifting techniques. Regular refresher training should be provided to keep personnel updated with any changes in regulations or best practices.
What about inspections and tests?
LOLER also governs inspections of lifting equipment, and how this should be carried out. A person who is suitably qualified to perform a thorough examination of the equipment must do so on a regular basis, and particular records have to be kept when these tests are carried out. It’s also worth remembering that these records can be inspected by a health and safety inspector, so they should be kept up to date and accurate all the time. And it’s the stated responsibility of the organisation that either owns or leases the equipment to ensure that the requisite inspections go ahead – so it’s worth scheduling it into the calendar and treating it as a priority when the time comes round.
Inspections done under LOLER are there for safety and security, but relative to previous iterations of the rules they can also help you to keep your equipment working well too. It’s interesting to note that the LOLER regime replaced the Construction and Use (Lifting) Regulations which were released as far back as the 1960s: these rules meant that every piece of lifting equipment was required to be subject to an overload test once per four years. LOLER tests have been designed to not cause as much trouble for pieces of equipment, so both safety and quality can be achieved and maintained.
In terms of timeframes, LOLER kicks in whenever lifts or similar equipment are used in the workplace. And it’s essential for a person with the appropriate qualifications and competency to have inspected and approved the item for use at some stage in the preceding 12 months.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What penalties can be imposed for non-compliance with LOLER?
Non-compliance with LOLER can result in penalties and legal consequences. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing LOLER and has the authority to issue enforcement notices, prohibition notices, and even prosecute organisations that fail to comply. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the severity of the offence.
Does LOLER apply to self-employed individuals or contractors?
Yes, LOLER applies to self-employed individuals and contractors who use lifting equipment or are involved in lifting operations. They have the same responsibilities as employers in ensuring compliance with the regulations and maintaining the safety of lifting equipment and operations.
Are there any exemptions under LOLER?
LOLER provides some exemptions for certain categories of lifting equipment and operations. For example, equipment used for medical purposes, escalators, and certain types of power-operated doors are exempted. However, these exemptions are specific and should be carefully reviewed to determine whether they apply to a particular situation.
Can LOLER be applied to lifting operations outside the UK?
LOLER specifically applies to lifting operations and lifting equipment used in Great Britain. However, similar regulations may exist in other countries, and it is essential to comply with the local legislation and requirements when conducting lifting operations internationally.
How often should lifting equipment be thoroughly examined under LOLER?
The frequency of thorough examinations depends on the type of lifting equipment and its intended use. LOLER specifies different intervals for various equipment, ranging from every 6 months to every 12 or 24 months. The specific requirements can be found in Schedule 1 of the regulations.
Is LOLER applicable to all industries?
LOLER applies to a wide range of industries and workplaces where lifting operations and lifting equipment are used. This includes industries such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, and offshore operations. However, some sectors may have additional specific regulations or guidelines that need to be considered alongside LOLER.