What is LOLER?
LOLER is a regulation that was passed in 1998 replacing the Construction and Use (Lifting) Regulations of 1961, which required each piece of lifting equipment to undergo an overload test every four years. LOLER was put in place to ensure that all lifting equipment is used safely and correctly. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, any business or organisation whose employees operate lifting equipment on the job must comply with the regulations that are in place.
Like many types of equipment, the machinery can become prone to damage when exposed to conventional overload tests. This is why the old regulations were replaced as a thorough examination each year under the new LOLER regulation is much less intensive, ensuring that the lifespan of the lifting equipment is not compromised. The performance of the lifting equipment itself is also better as the new type of examination is able to be performed more regularly.
LOLER, an abbreviation that stands for The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, requires all lifting equipment to be supervised by a competent and experienced individual. It also states that all lifting equipment must undergo regular examinations by a qualified technician to ensure it is fit for purpose and use. The business that owns or rents the equipment must take full responsibility in ensuring that these examinations and checks take place as and when they are supposed to and not just the responsibility of the operator. Once the equipment has been appropriately examined, it must be clearly marked, and a record kept of each individual examination. Any defects must be reported to the person responsible for the equipment and the relevant enforcing authority.
A LOLER examination is officially known as a thorough examination and is not the same as routine maintenance. Routine maintenance tends to involve replacing worn or damaged parts, ensuring fluid levels are maintained, and making minor adjustments however, LOLER testing must only be performed by someone who is qualified and competent in performing the thorough examination.
A LOLER examination is vitally important and is a health and safety regulation specific to lifting equipment. Its importance should not be downplayed or compromised as this can cause serious ramifications. A company that owns, rents, or operates any lifting equipment must comply with these regulations and treat it of the same importance as all others. To have achieved a correct LOLER examination, equipment must undergo a thorough examination that a competent person can only perform while all lifting equipment is properly maintained and supervised by an adequately trained employee.
Does anyone qualify as a “competent person” under LOLER?
The simple answer to this question is no. An individual who feels or believes they are competent alone is not enough to qualify as what is defined as a competent individual who can perform examinations. The LOLER ACOP defines a competent person explicitly as someone who “has appropriate knowledge both practically and theoretically and has experience of the lifting equipment that requires a full examination, enabling them to detect defects or weakness and to assess the importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment in question.” It also states that this person must be impartial so they can be sufficiently objective in their review of the equipment offering a fair and non-biased outcome. It is recommended that companies hire an external contractor to perform any LOLER inspections to ensure there is no doubting of the validity of the LOLER inspection should there, unfortunately, be an accident on site.
Where and when does LOLER apply?
Whenever lifting equipment is used within the premises of a business, LOLER applies whether you own the equipment or not. Equipment is required to pass a thorough examination every 12 months to comply with LOLER and must only be performed by a competent person. Equipment, once passed, must then be marked with its SWL. This stands for Safe Working Load. Any aspects that could affect or interfere with its safe use must also be visible and addressed.
Often companies use lifting equipment to lift individuals, such as mobile elevated work platforms. These must also be clearly marked, stating the maximum number of people permitted to be on the lift at any one time. Equipment that looks like it should be used for other purposes, such as; lifting equipment that is not designed to lift people but looks like it can, must be clearly marked to enforce that it should not be used for this purpose despite an individual’s judgment.
Each lifting operation that takes place, which LOLER defines as “an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load,” must only be performed if it has been planned and supervised by what LOLER defines as a competent person and on equipment that has passed a thorough examination in the past 12 months and is deemed safe. Suppose a contractor chooses to use their own lifting accessories such as a sling or a chain on another individual’s business premises. In that case, the contractor must provide evidence of the last LOLER report carried out on the accessory.
LOLER does not apply to all lifting equipment. Escalators and moving walkways are exempt from the regulation, as are simple pallet trucks as they only raise their load a few inches off the ground, making them less of a risk.
When is lifting equipment required to undergo a thorough examination?
According to the LOLER regulation, lifting equipment is required to undergo a thorough examination by a competent person on four different occasions:
- Before its first use
- Immediately after any repairs or essential components have been replaced
- Whenever it is removed or refitted to its original chassis
- Within 12 months of the last examination
Lifting accessories and any equipment that is used to attach a load to the lifting machinery must have a thorough examination every six months. This includes slings and chains. Once inspected, the piece of lifting equipment or accessory must be clearly marked with its Safe Working Load certification, and the results from the testing process must be recorded correctly. Any defects discovered must be documented and reported to the equipment owner and the relevant governing authority.