LOLER Inspections: How to Avoid Punishment When Using Lifting Equipment

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The lifting industry plays a crucial role in keeping the economy rolling. Without this equipment, moving loads would be much more time-consuming and workplace accidents more frequent. Because these machines are so important, they are subject to various obligations and regulations. One stands out for its importance and strictness: the LOLER.

LOLER stands for the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It ensures that all lifting devices used at work is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task, properly installed and maintained, and used safely. 

Here’s a breakdown of what LOLER covers:

  1. Scope: LOLER applies to all workplaces in the UK where lifting equipment is used. This includes all sectors from construction to healthcare, covering a broad array of tools such as cranes, lifts, hoists, and even patient lifting apparatus in hospitals.
  2. Requirements: The regulations require that all lifting operations must be properly planned by a qualified worker, appropriately supervised, and carried out safely. LOLER also demands that all equipment is fit for purpose, appropriately marked, and, most importantly, subject to regular thorough examination and inspection.
  3. Thorough Examination and Inspection: These are checks carried out by a qualified person to ensure that lifting machinery and accessories are installed correctly and are suitable for use. These assessments need to be carried out at predetermined intervals. For example, equipment used to lift people must be examined every six months. Other hardware must be checked every year or whenever there is a change in conditions that could affect safety.
  4. Record Keeping: Businesses are required to keep records of all thorough examinations and inspections, including any defects found and the remedial actions taken.
  5. Competency: According to LOLER, employees who operate these lifts must be highly specialised and receive adequate and specific training for their machines.

LOLER is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authorities, depending on the business’s main activity. Compliance is critical not only for legal reasons but also to ensure the safety of all employees and operations within a company.

What to Know if You Work With Lifting Equipment

The most important thing is identifying and rectifying potential faults or wear and tear before they lead to serious issues. Moreover, the records of all assessments and repairs should include the inspection date, the inspector’s name, any faults found, and the actions taken to address them. These records are crucial during audits by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the lift’s safe working load (SWL). Furthermore, mark the equipment and its accessories to indicate their SWL. Exceeding these limits can put undue stress on the machine, leading to failures and legal penalties. 

Develop and follow a detailed lifting plan for each operation, including risk assessments and method statements. This plan should outline the procedure, the equipment used, and the roles of everybody involved.

The Impact of Ignoring LOLER Regulations

The consequences of failing to follow LOLER rules can be severe. They may involve improvement notices demanding certain actions to be taken or prohibition notices immediately halting the use of the equipment. In more severe cases, breaches of LOLER could lead to prosecution, resulting in fines or even imprisonment for the responsible parties. 

But, beyond the legal consequences, there are also safety risks.

Without regular inspections and proper maintenance, lifting equipment may malfunction, leading to injuries or even fatalities. As a result, a company will be exposed to litigation, compensation claims from injured parties, and increased insurance premiums. Also, insurance companies may refuse to cover damages or injuries resulting from incidents involving non-compliant equipment, as failing to adhere to statutory regulations can be seen as negligence.

It is also necessary to consider the impacts on the company’s image. Firms that violate safety legislation lose the trust of consumers and investors. 

If lifting equipment is found to be non-compliant during LOLER inspections, it may need to be taken out of service until it meets the necessary standards. This can disrupt operations, delay projects, and lead to lost revenue, especially in industries where these machines are critical to daily operations.

LOLER should not be seen as an inconvenience or something to be feared but instead as a guide on how to follow best practices when installing and operating lifting equipment. By complying with the legislation, companies across all sectors increase the safety of their teams, boost employee morale, protect their reputations, and gain more efficiency.