LOLER : Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

What is LOLER ?

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations also know as LOLER impose obligations on individuals and entities in possession, operation, or command of lifting gear. This encompasses entities and all forms of organizations where lifting gear is utilized by workers, irrespective of ownership. Frequently, such lifting gear also qualifies as work equipment, thereby bringing it under the ambit of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), which mandates regular inspections and upkeep. Every lifting procedure involving such equipment necessitates meticulous planning by a qualified individual, must be closely monitored, and executed securely.

Moreover, LOLER mandates that any equipment employed in lifting be suitable for its intended purpose, meet task requirements, be clearly labeled, and, often, undergo mandatory regular comprehensive inspections. Documentation of all detailed inspections is required, and any discovered flaws must be promptly communicated to the equipment’s supervisor and the appropriate regulatory body.

What should you take care of

If your company or organization conducts lifting operations or supplies lifting equipment for use by others, it’s imperative to oversee and mitigate risks to prevent injuries or damage.

In the case of performing lifting activities with lifting equipment, you are required to:

  • Execute thorough planning,
  • Employ individuals with adequate expertise,
  • Provide proper supervision,
  • All to guarantee the safety of the operations.

What you should know

LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations), forms the nucleus around which several supporting and regulatory entities orbit, establishing a comprehensive safety and compliance network.

At the foundational level, LOLER is intrinsically linked to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act), underpinning its authority and reinforcing safety provisions across all lifting activities. This relationship is augmented by the Safe Use of Lifting Equipment: Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), a document not of legislative nature but of significant advisory status, developed under the HSW Act’s auspices to provide detailed guidance on adhering to LOLER’s mandates.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) emerges as a pivotal entity, offering additional guidance and resources to facilitate understanding and compliance with LOLER. The HSE’s role extends to developing open learning materials, enhancing accessibility and comprehension of LOLER’s requirements.

LOLER’s application is further refined by its interaction with other regulatory instruments, including the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), which shares a domain with LOLER in regulating work equipment, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, expanding the scope of health and safety management in lifting operations.

Specific scenarios, such as the use of safety harnesses in rope access work, bring into play the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, demonstrating the interconnectedness of various safety regulations in ensuring comprehensive protection.

The maritime context introduces a specialized enforcement collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the HSE, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB). This tripartite agreement underscores a coordinated approach to safety enforcement for lifting equipment on ships, delineating the boundaries of LOLER’s applicability in favor of specific maritime safety provisions.

Lastly, the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations intersects with LOLER by setting forth requirements for lifting equipment and accessories, mandating conformity assessments, labeling, and the issuance of a Declaration of Conformity (DoC). This ensures that equipment meets safety standards before market placement or initial use, highlighting the preventive aspect of the regulatory framework.

What is called lifting operation for LOLER ?

Within the LOLER framework, Regulation 8 delineates a “lifting operation” as any activity engaged in the elevation or descent of a ‘load’. The term ‘load’ encompasses the object or objects subject to lifting, extending its definition to incorporate individuals as well. This regulation underscores the broad applicability of LOLER, emphasizing the inclusive nature of what constitutes a load, thereby ensuring comprehensive safety measures are applied not only to the handling of materials but also to the lifting of people.

What is lifting equipment ?

Lifting equipment is identified as work apparatus designed for the elevation and reduction of loads. This definition expansively covers lifting accessories and attachments pivotal for anchoring, fixing, or sustaining the equipment, illustrating the broad spectrum of devices and aids encompassed under the term ‘lifting equipment.

Selecting the right equipment

LOLER mandates the necessity for lifting equipment to possess sufficient strength and stability, reinforcing the broader requirements set forth under PUWER regarding the appropriateness of work equipment. It emphasizes the strategic placement or installation of lifting devices to minimize, to a feasible extent, the hazards of the equipment or load impacting a person, or the load undergoing uncontrolled movements, falls, or accidental releases.

Additionally, when the lifting operations involve people, LOLER imposes extra safeguards to prevent injuries related to or within the lifting apparatus, necessitating more regular in-depth inspections. This ensures a dual focus on both the physical integrity of the lifting equipment and the safety of individuals being lifted, aligning with the overarching goal of mitigating risk in lifting activities.

Marking of lifting equipment

LOLER stipulates that all lifting equipment and their accessories be conspicuously labeled to denote their ‘safe working loads’ (SWL), representing the maximum weight they can lift without risk. This requirement extends to equipment or accessories whose SWL varies with their configuration, necessitating detailed SWL information for each possible setup. For instance, if an engine hoist’s hook can be positioned differently, the SWL for each specific position must be clearly indicated. Sometimes, this vital information needs to accompany the lifting machinery, such as a crane’s rated capacity indicator, which informs the operator of the SWL for the crane’s approved lifting configurations.

Moreover, accessories need to be tagged with any details relevant to their safe operation, which could include the weight of the parts if significant.

In situations where the equipment is utilized for lifting people, it must also be marked with the permissible number of individuals it can safely lift, alongside the equipment’s SWL.

Conversely, lifting equipment not designed for lifting people but which might mistakenly be used for this purpose must have clear markings to dissuade such use, thereby preventing accidents or misuse stemming from incorrect application of the equipment.

Planning, organising and carrying out lifting operations

Every operation that entails the use of lifting equipment necessitates:

  • Meticulous planning by an individual with the requisite competence,
  • Rigorous supervision, and
  • Execution in a manner that ensures safety.

Central to orchestrating any lifting endeavor is the process of risk identification and evaluation, which paves the way for selecting the most fitting equipment and methodology for the task at hand. The spectrum of lifting operations spans:

Simple and routine tasks, where minimal, on-the-spot planning by skilled and competent individuals suffices to mitigate risk, to ighly intricate operations, demanding elaborate and comprehensive planning/records, infused with significant levels of expert insights, vigilance, and oversight – all carried out by personnel with specialized training.

The intricacy of the plan and the magnitude of resources allocated for risk management should mirror the complexity and challenge posed by the specific lifting operation.

Thorough examination of lifting equipment

Lifting equipment is subject to comprehensive inspections under various circumstances, notably:

  • Prior to its initial deployment (except when accompanied by a recent Declaration of Conformity, issued within the preceding 12 months),
  • Whenever its operation is contingent upon the specifics of its installation, or whenever it undergoes reinstallation/assembly at a new location,
  • In situations where it has been subjected to conditions that may induce deterioration, potentially leading to hazardous outcomes.

It is essential to document the outcomes of these thorough examinations. Should any defects be discovered, it is imperative to notify both the individual utilizing the equipment and, if applicable, the entity from which the lifting equipment was leased or rented, in addition to informing the appropriate regulatory body (the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for industrial settings; local authorities for most other environments).

Lifting equipment to which LOLER may not apply

LOLER is explicitly applicable to lifting equipment used in the workplace. Certain types of work equipment that transport people or goods, often between levels but do not lift them in the same way as traditional lifting equipment, fall outside the scope of LOLER’s direct regulations. Nonetheless, when such equipment is utilized in a work context, the stipulations of PUWER—concerning selection, inspection, maintenance, and training—remain applicable. Notable examples of equipment not covered by LOLER but governed by PUWER include escalators, moving walkways, many conveyor systems, and basic pallet trucks that slightly elevate loads for movement.

Conversely, lifting equipment not employed in work environments, like stair lifts in private homes or platform lifts in retail settings for disabled access, does not fall under LOLER or PUWER’s purview in these instances. However, when such equipment is available in publicly accessible areas, it becomes subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act), necessitating thorough examinations and inspections for safety, with LOLER and PUWER serving as reference points for best practices.

Equipment designed primarily for customer use, such as lifts in shopping centers, must comply with all relevant product supply legislation to ensure safety by design and construction upon market entry. For instance, stair and platform lifts, particularly those for users with mobility impairments, are regulated under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, with lifts covering more than 3 meters in vertical distance typically requiring third-party conformity assessment. Similarly, conventional passenger lifts are governed by the Lifts Regulations 2016.

Moreover, employers and self-employed individuals bear a duty, to the extent feasibly possible, to safeguard non-employees who might be impacted by their work activities, as outlined in section 3 of the HSW Act. This includes maintenance workers from other organizations who might need to interact with the lifting equipment. Therefore, businesses that allow public use of lifting equipment, such as passenger lifts not specifically intended for workers, are still responsible for managing associated risks to the stringent standards demanded by LOLER and PUWER. Insurers, too, may mandate a high level of safety to manage public liability risks effectively.

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