What is Lifting Equipment?

29th August 2017

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What is Lifting Equipment?

Throughout August we have been looking at aspects of Lifting, brought on by the thought of lifting all those heavy holiday suitcases but actually there are high numbers of cases of injury caused by handling, lifting or carrying. According to HSE they estimate that 122,000 cases occurred between 2013-16, and we hope to help reduce this statistic.

Lifting equipment

According to HSE the range of lifting equipment covered by LOLER is very wide and the Regulations can apply across all industry sectors; from healthcare to construction, most industries and commercial activity will use some kind of lifting equipment.

Technological progress has meant that innovative, often complex and powerful lifting equipment is now available for use. Nevertheless, whether it is modern and complex or more traditional lifting equipment, LOLER will apply if it is used by employees or the relevant self-employed at work. If you are self-employed and your work poses no risk to the health and safety of others, then health and safety law may not apply to you. HSE has guidance to help you understand if the law applies.

There are three key terms used in reference to the Regulations: ‘lifting equipment’; ‘lifting operations’; and ‘the load’.

Lifting equipment
Lifting equipment is any work equipment for lifting and lowering loads, and includes any accessories used in doing so (such as attachments to support, fix or anchor the equipment).

Examples of lifting equipment include:

overhead cranes and their supporting runways
● patient hoists
● motor vehicle lifts
● vehicle tail lifts and cranes fitted to vehicles (hiab)
● a building cleaning cradle and its suspension equipment (hoist)
● goods and passenger lifts
telehandlers and fork lifts
lifting accessories

(Lifting accessories are pieces of equipment that are used to attach the load to lifting equipment, providing a link between the two. Any lifting accessories used between lifting equipment and the load may need to be taken into account in determining the overall weight of the load.)

Examples of lifting accessories include:

● fibre or rope slings
● chains (single or multiple leg)
● hooks
● eyebolts
● spreader beams
● magnetic PDF and vacuum devices

Lifting operations
This is a term defined by LOLER regulation 8(2): ‘In this regulation “lifting operation” means an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load.’

The Load
The load includes any material, people or animals (or any combination of these) that is lifted by the lifting equipment. Loads are often provided with permanent or semi-permanent fixed or attached points for lifting. In most cases, these are considered to be part of the load.

Examples of loads include:

● loose bulk materials
● sacks, bags, pallets and stillages
● discrete items (such as a large concrete block)
● machinery and any permanently attached lifting eyes
● a skip and the lugs fixed to its side

Equipment not covered by LOLER
LOLER is wide in its scope and some equipment might appear to be ‘lifting’ and therefore thought to be covered by LOLER. However, there are some notable exceptions that are not covered by LOLER, including :

● pallet trucks, where the consequence of the load falling off is very low
● roller shutter doors
● escalators
● fall arrest ropes
● tipper trucks

However, where this equipment is used at work, it will need to be maintained for safety and may (in some cases) be subject to inspection under PUWER.

Planning and organising lifting operations
Lifting operations can often put people at great risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to properly resource, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in a safe manner. Each of these elements requires a person or people with sufficient competence to be involved at each step. These people should have sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge of the work and equipment in question, as well as the requirements of the law, to be able to do this properly. For complex and high-risk operations, the planning and organisation should be extensive and meticulous.

The planning of individual routine lifting operations may be the responsibility of those who carry them out (eg a slinger or crane operator). But for much more complex lifting operations (eg a tandem lift using multiple cranes), a written plan should be developed by a person with significant and specific competencies – adequate training, knowledge, skills and expertise – suitable for the level of the task, we provide courses for both a Crane/lift supervisor and Appointed Person.

For straightforward, common lifting operations, a single initial generic plan may be all that is required (eg fork-lift trucks in a factory), which could be part of the normal risk assessment for the activity. However, from time to time it may be necessary to review the plan to make sure that nothing has changed and the plan remains valid. Routine lifting operations which are a little more complex may, depending on the circumstances, need to be planned each time the lifting operation is carried out.

The plan for any lifting operation must address the foreseeable risks involved in the work and identify the appropriate resources (including people) necessary for safe completion of the job. Factors to include may be any or all of the following:

working under suspended loads
attaching / detaching and securing loads
proximity hazards
lifting people
pre-use checking
continuing integrity of the equipment

The plan should 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.

Strength and stability
Lifting equipment must be of adequate strength for the proposed use. The assessment of this should recognise that there may be a combination of forces to which the lifting equipment, including the accessories, will be subjected. The lifting equipment used should provide an appropriate ‘factor of safety’ against all foreseeable types of failure. Where people are lifted, the factor of safety is often higher. Any lifting equipment selected should not be unduly susceptible to any of the foreseeable failure modes likely to arise in service, for example fracture, wear or fatigue.

Positioning and installation
The position of mobile lifting equipment or the location of fixed installations can have a dramatic effect on the risks involved in a lifting operation. It is vital to take all practical steps to avoid people being struck by loads or the equipment itself during use. The equipment should also be positioned to minimise the need to lift over people. Measures should be taken to reduce the risk of load drift (eg spinning, swinging, etc); and of the load falling freely or being released unintentionally. Many different methods have been developed to prevent falling loads, including the use of multiple ropes or chains, hydraulic check valves and nets for palletised loads.

Measures must be taken to ensure that people cannot fall down a shaft or hoistway. At access points to these areas, effective means to prevent access should be in place, such as gates, barriers or doors. Where access is required to enter the area, when a platform or car is present (eg a lift), the doors or gates should be interlocked to allow the gates to open only when the car is present.

When positioning lifting equipment, care must be exercised to avoid hazards arising from proximity, for example: coming into contact with overhead power lines, buildings or structures; coming too close to trenches, excavations or other operations; and coming into contact with buried underground services, such as drains and sewers.

Working under suspended loads
Where it can be avoided, loads should not be suspended over occupied areas. Where it cannot be avoided, the risks to people must be minimised by safe systems of work and appropriate precautions. Where loads are suspended for significant periods, the area below them should be classed as a danger zone, where access is restricted.  There are now specific courses which have been developed for carrying suspended or under-slung loads and excavators used as a crane which address specific details due to the nature of carrying loads in this manner.

Supervision of lifting operations
Supervision should be proportionate to the risk, taking account of the competencies and experience of those undertaking the lift. Many everyday lifting operations do not require direct supervision (eg experienced fork-lift operators undertaking routine lifts), although there may be circumstances where supervisory assistance may be required to manage risk (eg lifting an unusual load, crossing a public road etc). From time to time, employers may need to monitor the competence of workers undertaking lifting operations to ensure they continue to be carried out safely.

We hope you have found this articles on Lifting Equipment and Operations of interest, and as always our office staff are available for you to Contact Us and happy to discuss any of your training queries.

Regards The Kentra Team

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