If you are an employer or self-employed person providing lifting equipment for use at work, or if you have control of the use of lifting equipment, you must make sure it is safe. The main requirements for you fall under two main pieces of legislation.
Reports of Thorough Examination fall under LOLER. You are required to ensure the regular inspection of lifting equipment although the HSE are keen to stress that the completion of these Reports do not replace the necessity for operators to carry out checks to lifting equipment and accessories before use.
So what does LOLER require you to do?
LOLER addresses the specific risks associated with the use of lifting equipment. Thorough examination and inspections are key requirements to be compliant with the Regulations. To meet these requirements, duty holders must:
- Ensure lifting equipment (including lifting accessories) exposed to conditions causing deterioration which could lead to dangerous situations undergo regular thorough examination by a competent person. i.e. A Lifting Equipment Inspector
- Ensure all supplementary inspections and tests recommended by the competent person are carried out within the timescale stated.
Examples of conditions causing deterioration are wet, abrasive or corrosive environments.
What equipment is covered by LOLER?
The scope of the Regulations is very wide and includes a range of equipment.
There are two important definitions you need to know:
- ‘Lifting equipment’ means work equipment for lifting and lowering loads. The definition includes attachments used to anchor, fix or support the equipment (eg the runway of an overhead crane)
- ‘Accessory for lifting’ means lifting equipment for attaching loads to machinery for lifting.
What equipment is not covered by LOLER?
Some equipment used in lifting is not covered by LOLER. Where this is the case, you would still have duties under PUWER to ensure the work equipment is safe and suitable, for example:
- equipment whose principal function is not lifting, for example conveyor belts or the three-point linkage on a tractor
- items such as pallets, skips, ladles, one-trip slings attached to a load and similar containers, which are considered part of the load.
For lifting equipment used mainly by members of the public (such as lifts in shopping centres or train stations), you do not have duties under PUWER or LOLER. However, you still have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure the equipment is safe. Following the requirements in LOLER will help you meet those duties.
If you have any doubts about whether your lifting equipment is covered by the Regulations there is a lot more information on the HSE website.
What is thorough examination?
A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the lifting equipment by a competent person to detect any defects that are, or might become, dangerous.
The competent person or Lifting Equipment Inspector will determine the scope of the thorough examination and they may use a number of sources to help them do this, such as industry guidance.
HSE’s Contract Research Report Thorough examination and inspection of particular items of lifting equipment (CRR429) may also be a useful reference tool.
Who is a ‘competent person’?
A competent person:
- should have enough appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment so that they can detect defects or weaknesses, and assess how important they are in relation to the safety and continued use of the equipment;
- should not be the same person who performs routine maintenance as they would be responsible for assessing their own work;
- should be sufficiently independent and impartial to make objective decisions;
- may be employed by a separate company, or selected by an employer from members of their own staff.
How often must lifting equipment and accessories be thoroughly examined?
You must have lifting equipment thoroughly examined:
- before using it for the first time – unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity less than one year old and was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to establish the assembly was correct and safe, eg a platform lift installed in a building;
- after assembly and before use at each location for equipment that requires assembly or installation before use, eg tower cranes;
- regularly in service if the equipment is exposed to conditions causing deterioration that is likely to result in dangerous situations. If this applies to your equipment you have a choice (see Table 2). You can arrange for the thorough examination to be carried out:
– at regular intervals (either at least every 6 months or 12 months depending on whether the lifting equipment is for lifting people or not); or
– in accordance with an examination scheme drawn up by a competent person.
Accessories for lifting must be thoroughly examined either at least every 6 months or in accordance with an examination scheme.
Always have lifting equipment thoroughly examined following ‘exceptional circumstances’,
eg if it is damaged or fails, is out of use for long periods, or if there is a major change in how it is used which is likely to affect its integrity.
What is an examination scheme?
An examination scheme involves a thorough examination and would include a detailed schedule of checks, appropriate examination techniques and testing requirements, drawn up to suit the operating conditions of a specific item of lifting equipment.
This can help ensure that the resources you spend more accurately reflect the level of risk.
The examination scheme:
■ should clearly identify the parts of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined;
■ can cover a number of similar items subject to the same operating conditions, eg all the lifting accessories in a factory which are sufficiently similar in age and subjected to similar amounts of use;
■ may often specify periods that are different (longer or shorter) from the ‘periodic’ examination intervals (ie 6 or 12 months), but a longer period must be based on a rigorous assessment of the risks;
■ can be drawn up by the user, owner, manufacturer or some other independent person, as long as they have the necessary competence;
■ should be reviewed regularly, during each thorough examination and after any event that may alter the risks associated with the lifting equipment.
You must inform the competent person / lifting equipment inspector of any incidents that may affect the risks associated with the use of the equipment.
When should lifting equipment be inspected?
Under LOLER, lifting equipment may also need to be inspected at suitable intervals between thorough examinations.
This is usually where your risk assessment has identified a significant risk from the use of the equipment.
If they are required:
■ the scope and frequency will depend on the opinion of the competent person;
■ most manufacturers of lifting equipment can provide a guide on how often inspections should take place;
■ inspections would normally include visual and functional checks;
■ inspections should be regular (eg weekly, monthly or quarterly) and they are normally carried out on machinery (eg cranes). Lifting accessories such as chains or slings will not normally require an inspection as long as they receive a thorough examination at the appropriate interval and a proper pre-use check;
■ the schedule of inspections should be included in any examination scheme.
Do I need to have the non-lifting parts of the equipment inspected?
Yes. PUWER requires all work equipment that is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which may result in dangerous situations to be inspected.
For some lifting equipment, such as forklift trucks, you will need to inspect both the distinct lifting elements as well as the non-lifting elements.
Using a forklift truck as an example:
■ the thorough examinations and supplementary inspections (where required) will be carried out under LOLER and limited to the lifting mechanism (eg the chains and forks);
■ inspection under PUWER will be limited to the non-lifting parts such as the brakes, lights, and fall-over protection;
■ the maintenance of both the lifting and non-lifting parts of the truck will be carried out under PUWER.
In cases like these, the LOLER and PUWER inspection procedures can be combined if appropriate.
Are thorough examinations or inspections the same as routine maintenance?
No. Routine maintenance typically involves checking and replacing worn or damaged parts, lubrication, replacing time-expired components, topping up fluid levels, and making routine adjustments. This is to ensure the equipment continues to operate as intended, and risks associated with wear or deterioration are avoided.
Thorough examination may indicate areas of poor maintenance, but is not intended to replace it. You should not wait for the results of a thorough examination before carrying out maintenance on your lifting equipment. Maintenance is a requirement under PUWER and applies to all work equipment including lifting equipment.
Do I need to keep records?
Yes. You must keep records of all thorough examinations and inspections for all your lifting equipment (see Table 3).
The competent person / lifting equipment inspector must provide you with a written report of thorough examination and any inspections or tests they do. The report will identify if there are defects and what you must do to put them right. Schedule 1 of LOLER sets out what information must be in the report.
What happens if defects are found in the lifting equipment?
■ If the competent person finds a defect with the lifting equipment during the thorough examination and/or inspection which in their opinion is, or could become, a danger to people, they must tell you immediately and confirm this in the report of thorough examination/inspection.
■ If the competent person discovers a defect that involves an existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury, then they must tell you immediately and send a copy of the report to the relevant enforcing authority (HSE or the local authority), even if the defects are remedied immediately. A competent person who fails to report a defect, simply because it has been remedied on the spot, is disguising a potentially dangerous situation.
■ You must take action to rectify any defect you are told about. If you are notified of a serious and significant defect, you must immediately take the lifting equipment out of service until the defect has been put right. If you do not, you will be breaking the law.
■ For defects that need to be rectified within a certain timescale, you must repair or replace the defective equipment within the specified time, and not use it after that time unless the defect has been satisfactorily put right.
The HSE website contains a lot of information and leaflets about the thorough examination and inspection requirements of LOLER. You have additional duties under LOLER (such as marking of lifting equipment and organising the lifting operation), as well as other health and safety laws. For example, you have a duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to carry out a risk assessment.
Training your staff to become a Lifting Equipment Inspector
Kentra Training provide Lifting equipment inspector courses, the official name is Report of Thorough Examination which is what the course teaches the candidates to be able to produce for small lifting equipment and accessories. These courses are run on a regular basis throughout the year from our training centre in Middlewich or we can provide training on-site and come to you.
The course is accredited with our awarding body NPORS, so attending delegates will receive a operator ID card with 5 year membership with the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme.
For more details on this course or to discuss the LOLER regulations and requirements for Thorough Examinations please do not hesitate to contact us. Our staff are waiting to help.