Is there a difference between LOLER and PUWER?

PUWER & LOLER Is There A Difference?

A quick way to remember that these regulations are not the same, is to recognise that LOLER ( The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) only applies to lifting equipment whereas PUWER ( The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) applies to all equipment. 

Although PUWER and LOLER both reference work equipment, they are actually two very different components. Both sets of regulations are often referred to together as they do have some overlap. However, it is vital to understand the difference between these two regulations and their meanings. On some occasions, you may need to only comply with one regulation, while other tasks may require you to comply with both regulations.

So let’s have a quick recap.

What is PUWER?

PUWER, or The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations as it is also known, applies to all work equipment. This includes any equipment in the workplace that is owned, rented and operated by employees. If a piece of equipment is in a workplace, then PUWER always applies.

PUWER requires all equipment to be suitable and safe for use in the workplace. Equipment must be correctly installed, maintained and operated by a qualified and competent professional. It must be up to date with any inspections and have suitable health and safety controls and markings.

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What is LOLER?

LOLER, or The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, applies to all lifting equipment and operations. This means if you own, operate, or control any lifting equipment, it is important you understand that these regulations apply. 

Lifting not only refers to things being raised off the ground or surface but it also applies to the lowering of any material or object, including people. It is vital that all lifting equipment is fit for purpose, up to date with relevant inspections, suitable for the task and is operated by a trained and competent professional.

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So why are these two regulations often referred to together?

With these two regulations often linked together, it’s no wonder people can become confused on which is which. The key is to remember that both regulations apply to equipment. If your workplace houses any sort of equipment, odds are LOLER or PUWER regulations will apply. Another thing these regulations have in common is that both sets require the inspection and installation of equipment to be up to date, completed by a competent and trained professional.

LOLER only applies to lifting equipment, whereas PUWER applies to all equipment. However, it is essential to remember that lifting equipment is still classed as equipment, so both PUWER and LOLER will apply in this case.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What is the point of LOLER? Think of it this way. Suppose we have PUWER that covers all the crucial things such as; inspection, installation, maintenance and gives us the go-ahead to use the equipment. Although PUWER meets most requirements, it is still not guaranteed always to be sufficient enough. LOLER includes some additional requirements for lifting equipment and other necessities to ensure that equipment is extra safe and can prevent a number of incidents and accidents. So even though all lifting equipment is required to comply with PUWER, there are several additional requirements that need to be met and this is where LOLER comes in.

Now because PUWER covers various equipment, the regulation is not specific on what markings you need. Although lifting equipment does state what weight the equipment is capable of lifting, LOLER, because it is specific to lifting equipment, details the markings required for safe working loads on equipment, meaning it can help prevent unnecessary mistakes and accidents.
Another factor that links these two regulations is the requirement for the equipment to be inspected after installation. The equipment must also be carefully and thoroughly inspected after assembly and before being used for the first time. The equipment must also undergo the necessary checks if it has been moved to a new site or location regardless of whether it was checked prior to it being moved. These two regulations also require equipment to be properly examined at the required intervals to ensure that any deterioration can be detected and repaired before the damage becomes worse.

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Although this makes these regulations similar, the time frame on the required intervals makes them different. PUWER only gives a suitable interval in which the equipment needs to be inspected, whereas LOLER gives a maximum time frame between thorough examinations.

It is important to remember, PUWER covers all essential and required inspections for equipment. All equipment is required by law to have undergone a PUWER inspection by a competent and qualified professional. LOLER, on the other hand, requires a more in-depth inspection while also covering the relevant extra requirements for lifting equipment. No matter the circumstances, all equipment in the workplace is required to have had either an inspection under the PUWER regulations act or an inspection under the LOLER regulations act. Failing to have had the required inspections could result in a number of consequences. Companies can be issued with a hefty fine that could be in the range of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Having a massive effect on a companies financial figures. Imprisonment is also a consequence of not having the correct inspection status when it comes to your workplace equipment. Individuals have been known to serve months, even years in prison, for not following these regulations correctly. On some occasions, companies have been met with the most significant consequence of all. The loss of a life. So while it may seem like an inconvenience or even a nuisance to have equipment inspected and paperwork up to date, it can be the difference between a company running safely and successfully and even the difference between life and death in most cases.

For a company to run as smoothly as possible, ensure that all employees are up to date with any manual handling and health and safety training and that all equipment is inspected as and when required. 

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