EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are many regulations that apply to the lifting and manual handling of equipment, and of all of them, LOLER can be one of the most confusing, even for experienced operators. We have provided a helpful overview to help you get to grips with LOLER, to ensure you and your business are compliant.
WHAT IS LOLER?
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, known as LOLER, are a set of health and safety regulations for lifting equipment. Any business with lifting equipment, or employees who operate lifting equipment on the job, must comply with LOLER. All lifting equipment must undergo a regular examination by a qualified person to ensure it remains fit for purpose, and LOLER requires that all lifting operations are properly planned and supervised by a sufficiently trained employee.
A LOLER inspection, officially called a "Thorough Examination", is not the same as regular maintenance checking or essential servicing procedures like repair work, routine adjustments, replacing old parts, or topping up fluid levels.
A LOLER inspection must be carried out by what is known officially as a "Competent Person", who must a person qualified to perform the Thorough Examination.
WHO ENFORCES LOLER?
LOLER is enforced by health and safety inspectors. It is vital to maintain a complete record of your Thorough Examinations and lifting reports, as these inspectors have the authority to request access to your records at any time. If one of your employees suffers an accident while using a piece of lifting equipment, your records and practices may be inspected and you will face prosecution if you did not ensure your employees properly followed regulations.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that whenever lifting equipment is used on your business premises, you must ensure the HSE’s LOLER Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (ACOP) is being followed to the letter. Not only will this ensure the safety of your employees, but in the event of an accident, it will also provide legal cover. LOLER inspections will also catch any defects in your lifting equipment early on before they develop, and this will help extend the lifespan of your equipment.
If a lifting operation performed on your business premises results in an injury or fatality, and it was not properly planned by a Competent Person, you will be liable for prosecution. It is therefore vital you follow LOLER regulations carefully and fully, to protect yourself legally and to ensure the safety of your employees.
WHERE AND WHEN DOES LOLER APPLY?
Every time lifting equipment is used on your premises, LOLER applies. It does not matter whether you are the equipment owner or not, as LOLER will still apply. To be LOLER-compliant the equipment must have passed a Thorough Examination by a Competent Person in the last 12 months. Furthermore, the equipment must be clearly marked with its Safe Working Load (SWL) and any other characteristics or information needed to ensure its safe use.
LOLER defines a lifting operation as “an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load”. The equipment used for each of these operations must have passed a Thorough Examination in the past 12 months, and a Competent Person must also plan and supervise each lifting operation.
HOW IS A "COMPETENT PERSON" DEFINED BY LOLER?
A Competent Person, according to the LOLER ACOP, is someone who “has such appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as it will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment”.
LOLER also requires this person to be impartial so that they can perform a sufficiently objective review of the equipment. Therefore, it is recommended you have your LOLER inspections performed by an external contractor so there is no doubt about the validity of your LOLER inspections, in the case of an accident on your business premises.
WHAT DOCUMENTATION SHOULD I PROVIDE TO PROVE I HAVE COMPLIED?
According to the LOLER ACOP, Section 11, all records of Thorough Examinations must be readily available to authorised health and safety inspectors at all times. Therefore, you should record all LOLER checks electronically or keep a hard copy, at least until the next examination is performed. A Thorough Examination should be performed within 12 months of the last one, and when you refer the relevant authority to a completed LOLER report, it should reference the most recent Thorough Examination.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE LOLER INSPECTIONS?
According to LOLER, all lifting equipment must undergo a Thorough Examination by a Competent Person at the following times:
Before it is first used
Whenever repairing or replacing any essential component
Whenever removing or refitting the original chassis
No later than 12 months after the previous examination
Every six months, all lifting accessories, which includes any equipment used for attaching a load to the lifting machinery, such as slings and chains, must undergo a Thorough Examination.
After inspecting any piece of lifting equipment or accessory, the results must be recorded and the piece must be clearly marked with its SWL. Any defects must be reported to the equipment owner and the relevant governing authority.