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According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 111 people were killed in 2019/20 when operating mechanical equipment – one reason why companies must have their equipment checked regularly to ensure it conforms to regulation standards.
Lifting equipment such as cranes, pulleys, and hoists can wear out easily and pose a risk to staff and operators; since equipment can be faulty even when new, checks must be carried out at every stage of the machine’s lifecycle.
In this article, we go into some detail about what LOLER stands for and what it means for companies operating mechanical equipment. You will find out how LOLER can increase and decrease the risks to persons on the factory floor, what a LOLER inspection checklist is, and how often a LOLER inspection needs to be carried out to ensure full compliance.
Any business operating lifting equipment and mechanical equipment needs to ensure it is in full compliance with LOLER and has a lifting equipment inspection checklist. Read on to find out exactly what you need to know.
What does LOLER stand for?
These days health and safety regulations are taken very seriously in most companies. Even in office-based roles, there is regular health and safety training to prevent injuries and lawsuits from occurring. In industries where there is a higher risk of injuries, it is even more critical. This is where LOLER comes in.
LOLER stands for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (1998); it refers to the ongoing inspections of lifting equipment and lifting operations for companies that employ the use of mechanical equipment for production. It is not enough to assume new equipment is fault-free; it must be checked and verified that it’s safe to use.
New equipment isn’t always free from faults, even if it has a ten-year guarantee and it has only just arrived from the factory. Assumptions like this can easily lead to serious injury or death. LOLER inspections ensure that equipment operating both new and old isn’t compromised and is safe to operate. Regular inspections test various aspects of equipment and minimise the risks where possible.
What is LOLER?
LOLER typically covers any mechanical equipment used in the workplace, but some equipment that isn’t considered lifting equipment might also be exempt. LOLER stands for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations; it is therefore concerned with lifting equipment primarily and the operation of lifting equipment. The regulations are listed below.
- Lifting operation.
- Lifting equipment.
- Equipment selection.
- Marking lifting equipment.
- The planning of lifting operations.
Maintaining the equipment and ensuring that it is viable for use means more than simply checking the mechanisms. LOLER also inspects the surrounding areas and the protocol for operating the equipment.
Areas of usage that are also inspected by LOLER and come under LOLER therefore extend to:
- Use of equipment.
- Suitability of equipment.
- Positioning and installing.
- Strength and stability.
- Organisation of lifting operations.
- Marking lifting equipment.
- Equipment for lifting people.
- Suspended loads.
- Attaching, detaching, and securing loads.
The LOLER inspections should be carried out every 6 to 12 months, depending on the equipment. If you are unsure about your LOLER status, or you need more information about inspections for your equipment, contact LOLER.
How is risk increased?
If you operate a business that uses cranes and lifting equipment, you are expected to have a LOLER inspection every 6 to 12 months, even if the equipment is brand new. There are several failures that can occur with lifting equipment resulting in dropped loads, serious injuries, and fatalities, but there has been a falling trend in fatal injuries from 2 per 100,000 to less than 1 per 100,000 in recent years.
A LOLER inspection is thorough and will test the operation of the equipment mechanically as well as its operational environment and the personnel. One of the primary causes of injuries and fatalities due to faulty equipment is because of manufacturing faults, but this is something that can be identified and eliminated with a LOLER inspection.
If you make the assumption that your equipment is new and therefore fault-free, this will increase the risk of malpractice. Putting off a LOLER inspection in these circumstances is irresponsible and can lead to injury or death. Reduce the risk to your business by having your equipment inspected regularly.
How is risk decreased?
Having a LOLER inspection for your business dramatically reduces the risks of injury or death; this is because of the strict checks carried out that accord with LOLER and the practices put in place following the inspection that are conducive to safe practices during hours of operation.
For example, LOLER has regulations around the strength and reliability of mechanical equipment; when this is signed off, a company can confidently use the equipment knowing it is up to standard. This protects the 16- to 59-year-old operators that are most at risk of injury, according to the HSE.
A LOLER inspection will also check that all lifting equipment is installed safely and correctly to reduce the risks when operating the machinery. Moreover, equipment will be marked with the correct loads, so there is less chance of the machine being overcommitted.
By checking the machines and workplace practices in this way, the overall risk of malfunction and malpractice is significantly lower. These checks must be carried out early and regularly as they form part of the health and safety foundations for any workplace that operates machinery.
What does a LOLER inspection cover?
A LOLER inspection is primarily concerned with machinery and how it is used. It must inspect the mechanisms of the machinery, its maintenance, and the practices of using it.
So, along with inspections on loads of equipment, it also takes into account the placement of equipment and the operating standards. The machinery LOLER typically inspects includes cranes, forklifts, hoists, elevating platforms, platform hoists, and any attachments used for fixing, anchoring, and supporting.
LOLER stipulates that equipment and the use of equipment in the workplace must be operational, but it also must be positioned correctly to reduce the risk of injury and fatality. Equipment needs to be strong and stable as well and operated by trained and competent staff. All of this is covered in a LOLER inspection.
LOLER is outlined as follows – equipment must be:
- Positioned and installed to minimise risks.
- Strong and stable enough for a particular use and marked to indicate safe working loads.
- Planned and organised by competent staff.
As you can see, LOLER is designed to provide a thorough examination of the equipment and how it is used in the workplace. Without these regulations, equipment might be misused unknowingly, which could lead to serious injury. It might also be used in a dangerous or awkward space that could lead to safety concerns.
Not all of the equipment is subject to regular and routine inspections, but lifting equipment is. Anything that carries a load must be regularly checked and pass the LOLER inspection protocol. The equipment will be inspected by responsible and competent people such as Industrial Safety Inspectors (ISI).
The HSE government website offer more about LOLER inspections they provide a complete resource of information on LOLER and what the inspections involve. You can also contact them here and arrange an inspection to ensure your equipment is mechanically sound and safe to operate.
Who is responsible for LOLER inspections?
Ultimately the owners of the company and the equipment are responsible for ensuring that equipment has its legal safety inspections carried out at required intervals. Whoever the equipment is registered to will be the keeper of it and responsible for its proper maintenance and operation. In the case that this falls to a company and not a person, the responsibility would be transferred to the CEO or the company owner.
A LOLER inspection on equipment used for manufacturing is a legal requirement that owners must recognise and adhere to. Proper record-keeping is also necessary, which will be checked during the LOLER inspection.
Owners that fail to comply with the protocol for LOLER inspections will not only put their staff and workers at risk but they could also find themselves in legal hot water. This is outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (1998) (LOLER).
The owners and operators of the equipment who are responsible for the LOLER certificates, are also responsible for the training of staff to operate the machines responsibly and the maintenance of the machines to keep them in an operable condition. All of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of owners and operators of lifting equipment and mechanical equipment.
What are the different levels of inspection?
Following the initial LOLER inspection carried out by a LOLER examiner, companies and operators are responsible for carrying out their own inspections on the equipment and the site at regular intervals. This ensures the ongoing safety of the equipment and the safe use of the equipment as well.
There are two levels of inspection that must be carried out by operating staff and competent employees.
- Pre-use Checks – Standard checks carried out on lifting equipment before each use.
- Thorough Examinations – These are performed by the employer or a competent person within the company at regular intervals.
The regular intervals for LOLER inspections are:
- Before using it for the first time.
- After assembly and before use at each location.
- Regularly, while in service.
- Following exceptional circumstances.
Pre-use checks are to be carried out on all lifting equipment before its use; this means the testing of the lifting arms prior to use as well as any moving parts. Operators must also check they are wearing the correct equipment, goggles, hardhats, etc. before operating the machines.
The aim of these pre-use checks is to identify any faults or abnormalities that could contribute to accidents or injury. Any defect in the equipment, however small, is to be reported to management and recorded. These defects should be rectified before using the equipment if the operators are competent.
When it comes to LOLER inspections on the site, there must be “competent” people available to inspect the equipment and assist if defects are found. A competent person is someone with the correct knowledge, training, and experience to check lifting equipment for faults and operational defects. A competent person could be a member of staff or someone trained in that role.
A competent person can be anyone on your payroll who has adequate experience with the machines and understands LOLER thoroughly. However, the competent person cannot be the same individual responsible for the pre-use checks; it must be someone different. This helps to further reduce the risk of faulty equipment by increasing the likelihood that faults and issues will be discovered.
Why is it important for welfare?
LOLER reaches back to December 1998 when the regulations were brought in to replace some existing regulation for lifting equipment. Its primary function is to protect the welfare of people by ensuring that lifting equipment and the operations of lifting equipment are safe, mechanically sound, and responsible.
There are several reasons why these regulations were needed under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Lifting equipment in the workplace can result in very serious injuries and fatalities, not only from the operation of the equipment but also from the structures that are damaged and materials that are dropped.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act was established in 1974, and it included regulations for machines and lifting equipment. That’s because machines and lifting equipment are known to injure people in various ways. People can be hit by machines, materials can be dropped on them, body parts can be trapped by rollers and belts, and sharp edges can cut people and result in hospital admissions.
The list of potential harm and injury goes on and depends on the industry and type of equipment being operated. The benefits of LOLER inspections are numerous, but in the main, they protect equipment from deteriorating too fast; defects are quickly observed and acted on – this also means wear and tear – so the standard of machinery under LOLER is very high, and it is always fit for purpose.
How does it protect equipment?
The schedule for LOLER examinations depends on the industry you operate in, the type of machinery you have, and the regularity of its use. LOLER has an “examination scheme” which outlines the exact details for routine LOLER inspections.
In general, LOLER inspections take place at three intervals:
- 6 months, for lifting equipment and any associated accessories used to lift people.
- 6 months, for all lifting accessories.
- 12 months, for all other lifting equipment.
During a LOLER examination, the inspector will conduct a visual examination and check the basic function of the machine. They will also check for any signs of wear and tear. Measurements of wear will be taken from the equipment and reported for future action.
The equipment will also be load tested to ensure it conforms to industry standards and is not being overburdened.
Depending on the type of equipment being assessed, its age, and overall condition, a competent person will carry out the testing between 1-3 hours. Three hours would normally be the upper limit for the testing of equipment, but it might be necessary if the competent person needs to carry out a full range of checks or if there is reason to assess the equipment more thoroughly.
LOLER stands for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (1998); it is a lifting equipment inspection checklist that ensures the working order and safety of lifting equipment for businesses. Lifting equipment with moving arms and mechanical parts, such as cranes, hoists, lifts, and pulleys, are potentially harmful to employees’ welfare.
Even new mechanical equipment can be faulty and cause injuries or fatalities, and older equipment must be checked regularly to ensure it is operational. A regular LOLER inspection checklist can significantly decrease the risks associated with operating mechanical equipment. Conversely, the risk is enhanced if the checks are not carried out or are neglected.
A LOLER inspection involves checking the operation of the equipment and the proper function of all the moving parts, but that’s not all. LOLER also checks where the machines are located on the factory floor and the personnel operating them. These additional criteria create safe operating conditions for potentially hazardous machines and further reduce the risk of injury.