What is LOLER and does it apply to my business?

LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) is a detailed and carefully put-together set of regulations created to make all lifting operations and use of any lifting equipment safe and secure within a working environment.

Lifting operations and be extremely dangerous as well as highly complex manoeuvres to master. These regulations were introduced to ensure that any equipment selected is solid and stable, positioned exactly where it needs to be in a safe location, has the regular and correct checks while still having the proper and thorough inspections performed by a competent and qualified individual, equipment is subject to routine maintenance when required and that any equipment is stored securely where it will be free from any potential damage that may be caused, in essence helping to prolong its use.

There are a number of different types of lifting operations, including; a forklift raising heavy pallets in a warehouse, a rope and pulley system that are often used to lift individuals, such as window cleaners, up the side of a high rise building and even a crane positioning steel beams correctly on a construction site. Either way, it is essential none of these manoeuvres go wrong and are free from any type of error, as it can essentially be the difference between life and death.

LOLER also ensures that any lifting operations are not just performed on a whim. Each operation must be carefully planned out for every use with all potential risks being taken into account, risk assessments being completed and all the relevant safety documentation completed, including; Declarations of Conformity, thorough inspection reports and any details that state the safe working loads. All operators must also be appropriately trained, competent in their role, fit for work and have enough experience and expertise to complete the job safely and efficiently.

LOLER, unlike PUWER, only applies to specific lifting equipment and its use for work purposes. It’s crucial not to get lifting equipment that comes under the regulations of LOLER confused with other pieces of lifting equipment that do not. For example, a customer lift inside a shopping centre that is used to transport customers to different levels of the building would not be covered by LOLER as it is not used for work purposes; however, a lift that transports goods used by staff is required to be covered by LOLER. Staying within the shopping centre environment, escalators are another piece of lifting equipment that has its own set of regulations and is protected by regulation 19 of the Workplace (Health and Welfare) Regulations; therefore, they do not come under LOLER’s regulations. Dentist chairs, as they are used to manoeuvre patients up and down, are considered low risk and are therefore not required to be covered. The same applies to pallet trucks; however, both will still be covered by PUWER. While not all equipment is covered by LOLER, it is essential to remember that it will most likely be covered by PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations). Although LOLER may not always apply, there is always another regulation that always will.

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Does LOLER apply to my business?

This is a question that is frequently asked. As LOLER regulations cover such a vast majority of equipment, it can be pretty common to get lost on what needs to be protected and what doesn’t. Most equipment that is used for heavy lifting will be required to be covered by LOLER. This includes equipment used for lowering and lifting loads and any accessories and attachments that support, anchor, or fix to the equipment. A lifting operation is defined as an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of an item or items. This also applies to the lifting of a person or people.

Have a glance around your workplace and just calculate how many pieces of lifting equipment you have access to. This can include cranes, trucks, elevating work platforms, basically any large piece of lifting equipment you can see. When you look slightly further, you will notice other things that need to be covered as the legislation does not only apply to warehouse and construction equipment. Hoist’s that are used within the care industry and goods lifts that are used by staff are required to follow the regulations of LOLER.

If your workplace has access to or uses any of these types of equipment, LOLER does apply to your business and the correct checks and inspections must take place.

As the employer, you must have the correct arrangements in place to make sure all equipment used by your company and kept on-site is maintained and in a safe and working condition. You must be one step ahead in thinking what hazards could potentially occur, what to do in the event of the equipment or one of its attachments (if it has any) becoming broken or damaged during use or if the equipment starts up on its own, which has been known to happen. You must also consider what the correct procedure would be if materials that are usually enclosed within a piece of machinery begin to leak or if, by chance, the objects you are lifting fall.

It is vital that you plan for all of these scenarios as failing to do so can lead to confusion, lack of communication and cause accidents. Having a detailed written plan that is available to all employees will ensure that everyone is aware of what to do in case of an incident and can avoid losing valuable time that can be used to resolve the situation quickly and safely.

Remember, LOLER is a regulation that is in place to keep employees and individuals safe. If you choose not to have a proper LOLER inspection completed, you pose a risk to your business and all those employed and the general public. If your company has access to or houses lifting equipment check if it has or needs a LOLER inspection. It can be the difference between life and death in some cases, so its importance should never be underestimated.

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