Lifting operations can often put people at risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, which are often abbreviated to LOLER, LOLER Regulations or LOLER 1998, place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment.
In most cases, lifting equipment will also be covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), so be sure to check out our PUWER guide to make sure you understand your legal duties when it comes to maintaining and inspecting lifting equipment. However for now, sit back as we present RoSPA’s guide to LOLER.
What is LOLER?
Put simply, the LOLER regulations require that all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. It also requires that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task and suitably marked, with suitable maintenance recorded and defects reported. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers the following advice for businesses or organizations undertaking lifting operations providing lifting equipment for others to use:
Where you undertake lifting operations involving lifting equipment you must:
- plan them properly
- use people who are sufficiently competent
- supervise them appropriately
- ensure that they are carried out in a safe manner
What lifting equipment is covered by LOLER?
The LOLER regulations cover any equipment used at work. However, some work equipment is not considered lifting equipment and so is not subject to LOLER’s specific provisions. However, when used at work, the provisions of PUWER still apply to all equipment (including selection, inspection, maintenance, and training). Some examples of work equipment which does not come under LOLER but still comes under the provisions of PUWER include escalators, stair lifts and platform lifts for the use of customers within a workplace.
However, it’s important to remember that that under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAW) employers and the self-employed have responsibilities, so far as reasonably practicable, for the safety of people they do not employ that may be affected by the employer’s work and therefore businesses allowing the public to use lifting equipment, should still be managing the risks from this equipment – and will generally need to be to the same stringent standards as required by LOLER and PUWER
How to select the right lifting equipment?
According to LOLER, all workplace lifting equipment should be positioned or installed in such a way as to reduce the risk, as far as reasonably practicable, of the equipment or load striking a person, or of the load drifting, falling freely or being unintentionally released.
All equipment must also be appropriately marked. The HSE advises:
All lifting equipment, including accessories, must be clearly marked to indicate their ‘safe working loads’ (SWL) – the maximum load the equipment can safely lift.
Where the SWL of any equipment or accessory depends on its configuration, the information provided on the SWL must reflect all potential configurations (for example, where the hook of an engine hoist can be moved to different positions, the SWL should be shown for each position). In some cases, the information should be kept with the lifting machinery, eg the rated capacity indicator fitted to a crane, showing the operator the SWL for any of the crane’s permitted lifting configurations.
Accessories must also be marked to show any characteristics that might affect their safe use. This may include the weight of the parts, where their weight is significant.
Where people are being lifted, additional training may be required to prevent people from being injured in / by the carrier,
Planning lifting operations
Before any lifting operation, LOLER requires that any foreseeable risks involved in the work are identified and that the appropriate resources (including people) necessary for safe completion are appropriately allocated. According to the HSE, factors to consider may include:
- working under suspended loads
- attaching / detaching and securing loads
- proximity hazards
- lifting people
- pre-use checking
- continuing integrity of the equipment
Remember, the plan needs to set out clearly the actions involved at each step of the operation and identify the responsibilities of those involved. The degree of planning and complexity of the plan will vary and should be proportionate to the foreseeable risks involved in the work.