The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 or LOLER is a subset of the Health and Safety at Work Act. This UK legislation focuses on ensuring safety in using lifting equipment at work.
It includes guidelines for the strength, stability, and safe usage of such equipment, along with regular inspections by qualified persons. Employers and workers are responsible for maintaining and safely operating equipment. The regulations also emphasise thorough record-keeping and clarify legal responsibilities in case of equipment-related incidents.
The UK Government’s The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that 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). This definition of lifting equipment includes the likes of elevators, cranes, ropes, slings, hooks, shackles, eyebolts, pulley systems, and forklifts.
These regulations, part of the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998,’ apply to all workplaces and cover both goods and people lifting.
According to the LOLER regulations, any lift used in work activities must undergo regular inspections by a qualified individual. Under Regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, lifts must be examined before first use and after any major modifications affecting operation.
Those in charge of a lift’s safe operation, known as ‘dutyholders’, are responsible for ensuring these thorough examinations. Lifts used for transporting people require an inspection every six months, while those carrying only goods need a yearly check.
Any significant changes to the lift or alterations in operating conditions that could impact its integrity also necessitate a re-examination.
Safe Working Load (SWL)
The regulations mandate that all lifting equipment must have its Safe Working Load (SWL) clearly marked. This SWL depends on the equipment’s configuration and its accessories, like eye bolts, lifting magnets, and beams. The marked SWL reflects the maximum safe lifting capacity of the equipment. Equipment designed specifically for lifting people must also be clearly marked to indicate this purpose.
Employer and Worker Responsibilities Under LOLER 1998
Created under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, LOLER 1998 outlines four crucial employer and worker respnsibilities that must be followed:
1. Equipment Safety and Suitability
All lifting equipment must be safe and fit for its intended purpose. The manufacturer is responsible for identifying and assessing any potential hazards related to the equipment to reduce risks to acceptable levels. Typically, lifting equipment undergoes independent type testing to ensure safe performance according to one of the following standards:
- BS (British Standard) – Mainly used in the UK.
- ISO Standards (International Standard).
- EN (Euronorm) – Used across Europe.
- CEN/CENELEC (Euronorm Standards).
These standards provide a common language and detailed technical specifications or criteria, serving as consistent rules, guidelines, or definitions.
2. LOLER Training
All personnel must receive appropriate LOLER training. Manufacturers of lifting equipment must provide usage instructions for their products. Employers are then responsible for ensuring their employees understand and follow these instructions correctly. Competence in using lifting equipment is gained through experience, technical knowledge, and training.
3. Maintenance of Equipment
It is essential to maintain all lifting equipment in a safe condition. Regular pre-use inspections by personnel are recommended. Regulation 9 of LOLER specifies the formal inspection requirements at set intervals, to be carried out by a competent person. The findings must be recorded. The maximum fixed periods for thorough examinations and inspections under Regulation 9 of LOLER are:
- Equipment for lifting persons: Every 6 Months.
- Lifting accessories: Every 6 Months.
- Other lifting appliances: Every 12 Months.
These inspections can also follow a written scheme of examination. Any inspection record must comply with the requirements of Schedule 1 of LOLER.
4. Declarations for Newly Used Equipment
If lifting equipment has not been previously used and comes with an EC declaration of conformity, the employer must possess this declaration. This exception applies if the declaration was issued no more than 12 months before the equipment is put into service.
Documentation Requirements for Lifting Equipment
Operators of lifting equipment are mandated by law to maintain and provide access to thorough examination reports. It is a legal requirement that this documentation must be available for review by health and safety inspectors for a minimum duration of two years or until the subsequent report is prepared, whichever period is longer.
It’s compulsory to maintain records for every piece of equipment. Upon manufacture, each equipment piece should be issued a “birth certificate,” verifying its compliance with relevant standards at the time of its creation. In the current European context, this typically includes an EC Declaration of Conformity along with a manufacturer’s certificate, if required by the standard adhered to.
These records can be stored electronically, provided that a printed report can be produced upon request.
LOLER inspections are a mandatory legal requirement and must be conducted by an individual who is deemed competent. The term “competent person” isn’t explicitly defined in the legislation itself, but the HSE LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance provides clarification.
It suggests that this individual should possess both practical and theoretical knowledge and experience with the lifting equipment, enabling them to detect any potential safety issues.
In many cases, an insurance company might assign a competent person or might opt to hire an independent third-party inspector.
The frequency of these inspections is typically every six months for all equipment involved in lifting, and at least annually for equipment that falls under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER). However, the competent person conducting the inspection has the authority to set different intervals based on their judgment.
The standards minimally require:
- An inspection every six months for equipment used for lifting or lowering persons.
- A biannual inspection for lifting accessories.
- An annual inspection for all other types of lifting equipment that do not fall into the above categories. However, the competent person may decide on different intervals as needed.
|Type of Equipment
|Lifting Equipment for Lifting/Lowering Persons
|Every 6 months
|Every 6 months
|Other Lifting Equipment (not for lifting persons)
|Every 12 months
Thorough processes and LOLER compliance training is important for any type of business or organisation that uses lifting equipment and operations. There have been a number of high-profile prosecutions by the HSE for breaches of LOLER regulations, with each leading to significant fines.
You can find more details of this legislation on the Government website.