LOLER is a crucial set of regulations that those who operate or work with lifting equipment have to follow. It stands for the “Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations”, and it became the law in the UK in 1998. But what exactly does this complex area of law mean for those in the field, and how can you ensure that you adhere to it when using lifts and similar equipment? This article will explain this.
Safety is key
The main purpose of the LOLER regulations is to keep users of lifting equipment safe while they are at work. The regulations were created in the spirit of ensuring that all individuals deserve a safe working environment and that nobody should be put at risk by doing their job. LOLER helps meet that obligation in this particular industry, and the regulations are a part of the wider remit of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Your main obligations
According to the Health and Safety Executive, employers who ask staff to deal with heavy lifting equipment have to do several things in order to keep the potential problems that employees are exposed to a minimum.
First off, employers must ensure that they “plan…properly”: it’s likely to be unacceptable for an employee to plunge straight into a task with lifts and related equipment unless the whole process has been prepared for in advance. And this links to the second requirement, which is that the plan must be done “using people who are sufficiently competent”. This concept of a “competent person” is key to the regulations, and is a good reason to invest in proper health and safety training.
Employers also have to ensure that planned operations and competent people “supervise…appropriately”, too. This means that members of staff who are using lifting equipment should be monitored by someone with appropriate knowledge and skills. And the Health and Safety Executive finishes its list of these requirements by reminding employers of the main, overarching goal of LOLER when it comes to lifting operations: “to ensure that they are carried out in a safe manner”.
What about inspections and tests?
LOLER also governs inspections of lifting equipment, and how this should be carried out. A person who is suitably qualified to perform a thorough examination of the equipment must do so on a regular basis, and particular records have to be kept when these tests are carried out. It’s also worth remembering that these records can be inspected by a health and safety inspector, so they should be kept up to date and accurate all the time. And it’s the stated responsibility of the organisation that either owns or leases the equipment to ensure that the requisite inspections go ahead – so it’s worth scheduling it into the calendar and treating it as a priority when the time comes round.
Inspections done under LOLER are there for safety and security, but relative to previous iterations of the rules they can also help you to keep your equipment working well too. It’s interesting to note that the LOLER regime replaced the Construction and Use (Lifting) Regulations which were released as far back as the 1960s: these rules meant that every piece of lifting equipment was required to be subject to an overload test once per four years. LOLER tests have been designed to not cause as much trouble for pieces of equipment, so both safety and quality can be achieved and maintained.
In terms of timeframes, LOLER kicks in whenever lifts or similar equipment are used in the workplace. And it’s essential for a person with the appropriate qualifications and competency to have inspected and approved the item for use at some stage in the preceding 12 months.