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He walked up to me and she asked me to dance

Are you taking lifting seriously, or are you using an old seatbelt to suspend the odd load?
Showing my age now but this is what I always think of when anyone mentions LOLER, the abbreviation for the particular piece of health and safety legislation that I am going to write about in this article.

Showing my age now but this is what I always think of when anyone mentions the abbreviation for the particular piece of health and safety legislation that I am going to write about in this article.

So lets start by asking you a couple of questions?

Is a car seat belt a suitable means of suspending a load from the forks of a fork truck?

Should a set of lifting chains be lying in a pool of oil and water on a workshop floor?

Although I see good practice during most of my visits to dismantlers' yards, I still also see practices such as those above occasionally too.

So this article will focus on the specific responsibilities all yards have to inspect and examine their lifting equipment and lifting accessories.
Phil Wass
Phil Wass is a Chartered Safety and Health practitioner and has a Masters Degree in Occupational Health and Safety. He is Managing Director of Wass Management Limited who specialise in all aspects of health and safety training, advice and guidance. Phil is an advisor to the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers' Association and understands the needs of the industry. He regularly carries out work for MVDA members.

If you have any health and safety issues, visit Wass Management Limited, email Phil or you can contact him on 01773 541441
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) outline many requirements including:
  • strength and stability of equipment
  • positioning / installation of lifting equipment
  • marking of lifting equipment
  • organisation of lifting operations
  • etc.

However in this short article I am just going to concentrate on the following:
  • inspections of lifting equipment
  • thorough examinations of lifting equipment
  • reports and defects of lifting equipment

It is necessary to carry out an inspection of the condition of lifting equipment at regular intervals. The regulations state very specifically that any rope or chain incorporated within any equipment for lifting persons should be inspected by a competent person every working day. As for inspections of lifting equipment generally, it would be expected that the operator also carries out a pre-use inspection at very regular intervals which would certainly be daily for a piece of such equipment in active and regular use. It would also be seen as good practice to ensure that such inspections are recorded and that another tier of competence within the organisation periodically carries out random checks to ensure that such checks are being performed and are being performed properly (i.e. they are not becoming a ‘tick box’ exercise).

A thorough examination of the equipment should be carried out by a competent person under various circumstances (such as before first use, after assembly at a new location, if exceptional circumstances arise, etc.) but most importantly routinely as follows:
  • every 6 months for lifting equipment lifting persons
  • every 6 months for lifting accessories
  • every 12 months for other lifting equipment (i.e. lifting materials)

The person carrying out the thorough examination is also bound by tight requirements by these regulations as well as follows:
  • they must notify the employer forthwith of any defect discovered which may prove dangerous to persons
  • they must as soon as is practicable make a report of the thorough examination and provide this to the employer and / or the body hiring or leasing the equipment
  • they must also inform the enforcing authority where any such defect presents imminent risk of personal injury

On receipt of a notification such as that outlined above then the user would be expected to stop using the equipment immediately until any fault identified has been fully and adequately rectified and has been approved by the competent person involved.

These reports must then also be kept for a specified period of time depending on specific circumstances (these ranging from until the lifting equipment ceases to be used or 2 years).

I have known of several instances whereby an unannounced visit by an enforcement official has indeed been triggered by such a report being sent to them by the person carrying out the thorough examination of such equipment.

So to go back to where I started this article, it is not acceptable to use the seat belt out of an end of life vehicle to suspend a load. A suitable strap or chain should be used whose lifting capacity is known and its condition regularly checked. Straps and chains should also not be lying around the premises but should be controlled with their last date of thorough examination being known.

Professional organisations will be using systems such as colour coding of lifting accessory tags so that equipment users can spot instantly whether the item is within test or not? Some organisations decide to dispose of lifting straps at 6 monthly intervals as it is more cost effective to replace these than have them examined?

The requirements of these regulations also throw up several other issues such as if you have a man cage for your fork trucks then which truck is allowed to lift the cage? Each truck allowed to do this will need a 6 monthly not a 12 monthly examination so tight control is needed here too?

Most modern health and safety legislation allows you to decide how to manage that particular issue based on the findings of your own risk assessment however this is one of the few areas of safety where you don’t have the choice as these interval requirements are a mandatory requirement for everyone.

May 2016

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