LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment) Regulations 1998 Explained
The LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment) regulations as they currently stand were introduced in early December 1998 and sit as part of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The necessity for such regulations was brought about by the increase in injuries being seen at a variety of workplaces due to goods being incorrectly lifted (either manually or using specialist lifting equipment) and as such, LOLER covers any situation where either goods or people will be lifted at work. This is, now so more than ever with the provision of ever evolving technologies, a key area in the workplace to ensure health and safety is paramount at all times!
As the LOLER regs cover any situation in which goods or people are due to lifted, the equipment covered is vast and includes chains, ropes, slings, rope and pulley systems, lifts, cranes and hooks.
That said, LOLER only applies to lifting equipment used at work and as such does not cover any domestic lifting equipment or set ups. Work equipment NOT covered by LOLER includes escalators, moving walkways and stair lifts installed for disabled access.
Thorough examination of equipment
LOLER works to ensure that all such lifting equipment is fit for purpose, suitably marked, appropriate for the job in question and has been subject to, and passed, a “thorough examination”. This is most often statutory and periodic, and includes pre-use checks by intended users, maintenance checks and thorough checks. A “thorough examination” must be carried out by a competent person and result in a written report to conform to LOLER, which must include the date, noted defects and the date of the next examination due.
The right equipment for the job
In addition to safety, part of the reason LOLER was introduced was to ensure users were selecting the right equipment for the job in question and of adequate strength and stability. As such, all lifting equipment related accessories are required by law to be marked with their Safe Working Loads (SWL). If the mass to be lifted exceeds the SWL, then alternative equipment must be used or the mass must be reduced to within safety limits.
If the equipment is being used to lift people instead of or as well as objects, then this should be marked with the maximum number of people that can be lifted at any one time alongside the SWL. If the equipment is NOT safe for lifting people, then this needs to be marked clearly.
What is a safe working load?
A “safe working load” (SWL) is classed as the force used safely by lifting equipment to lift, lower and suspend the load in question without fear of breaking.
What happens if you breach LOLER regulations?
The severity of the fines and penalties imposed by the HSE depend on the breaches in question and the resulting injuries/fatalities caused.
To give an idea of the severity of fines and penalties incurred when LOLER regulations are breached and injuries/fatalities are caused as a result:
- In 2012, Harris Calnan Construction Co were ordered to pay more than £178,000 in penalties when a worker on a site in London was killed after the boom on a mini-crawler struck him and caused fatal crush injuries. Upon HSE investigation, it was found that lifting operations were neither properly planned nor supervised and the SWL of the crane had been far exceeded during the incident. The company was fined £80,000 with additional costs of £66,244 and the director himself was fined £7,500 with costs of £25,000 after admitting failure to ensure proper planning of lifting operations.
- In 2014, Trans Road Limited were fined £2,000 with additional costs of £849 when an employee was injured at work during a lifting operation. Unsecured panels being lifted by a fork lift truck fell onto the employee and caused him injuries that meant he could not return to work for several weeks.
- Earlier this year, GHA Coaches Limited were fined £250,000 for failing to get its lifting equipment thoroughly examined within the required timescales of the periodic assessments. More than 14 examinations were overdue and as such, the HSE fined the company based on the potential risk to users.