Using heavy lifting equipment is covered by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, more commonly referred to as LOLER. This replaced a number of other regulations which had been in force previously. The regulations are designed to reduce the dangers and risks that operating heavy load equipment can present and, from an equipment maintenance standpoint, they are enforced in conjunction with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, referred to as PUWER.
What Does LOLER Stipulate?
The regulations stipulate that all lifting equipment which is used within the workplace must be stable and strong enough for the specific use for which it is intended and that it is designed to withstand the weight of any particular load it is meant to lift. The equipment also needs to be installed onsite in a suitably appropriate location which minimises any risks to employees operating it and it must be kept fully maintained and examined on a regular basis and, where inspection takes place, that must be carried out by suitably qualified professionals.
The Type of Equipment Covered by the Regulations
This includes any equipment which is purpose built for lifting or lowering loads, including any attachments which may be used to anchor, fix or support the load. Equipment such as fork-lift trucks, cranes, hoists, vehicle inspection platforms and other elevating work platforms in addition to any other equipment which might be used to lift things are all subject to LOLER. Escalators, however, would be covered in the separate Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Lifts for the purpose of carrying people, such as you’d see in a department store, for example, would be covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
What do the Regulations Require a Company to do?
A company must ensure that all lifting equipment in the workplace must fully comply with LOLER and that all the equipment is strong and stable enough for its proposed use as well as any attachments used to increase a load’s stability, such as ropes and chains. The equipment must be positioned in such a place so that there is minimal danger from a person falling from the equipment and from the load falling onto a person.
The equipment must also be visibly marked with any indicators such as safe working loads amounts. It also requires that people operating the equipment have been fully trained in using it and are competent operators. If the equipment is being used for the first time, it must be thoroughly examined before use and at regular intervals throughout its lifespan by a fully trained inspector in this area and that any malfunction is flagged up in a report to the employer and that the company understands that it is obliged to take the necessary action to repair or to modify the equipment and that any modifications and repairs have been thoroughly vetted and passed by the inspector before the equipment is used again.
Health and Safety inspectors carry out routine checks of all such equipment and have the power to enforce a shutdown of any defective equipment and in other cases where the company are not fully complying with the regulations and, if necessary, further action can be taken.