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The lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations 1998 – Offshore aspects



1  This SPC provides information on offshore interpretation and enforcement of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). Additional information is in the ACOP and guidance booklet L113: Safe Use of Lifting Equipment: Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.


2  LOLER brings into effect the lifting aspects of the Amending Directive to the Use of Work Equipment Directive. The primary objective is to ensure that all lifting operations are undertaken, and lifting equipment is used in such a way, that they do not give rise to health and safety risks.

3  LOLER builds on the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) to implement the hardware and management provisions of the Directive for work equipment, which includes lifting equipment. It includes:


4  LOLER is applied offshore by the Health and Safety at Work Act (Application outside Great Britain) Order (AOGBO)..

5  LOLER applies to all lifting equipment on offshore installations. These include ships which are offshore installations, such as mobile offshore drilling units and flotels. Ships which are not installations are not covered. This includes installations which are stacked or otherwise out of use. In these circumstances, LOLER only applies to lifting equipment used for a ‘specified operation’ as defined in regulation 3. This is where the ship’s equipment is used by persons other than the master or crew, or where persons other than the master or crew are liable to be at risk from its use. LOLER also applies to a ‘specified operation’ involving activities in connection with offshore installations or wells, which can include work by heavy-lift vessels.

6  LOLER applies to lifting equipment used for ‘pipeline works’, for example on pipelaying barges. The regulations do not apply to lifting equipment on barges for loading, unloading, fuelling or provisioning the vessel, unless used by persons other than the master or crew or where persons other than the master or crew are liable to be at risk from its use. In these cases only regulations 6 and 8 apply, regarding operational matters as opposed to hardware or inspection schemes.

7  PUWER applies to all work equipment, including lifting equipment. LOLER applies in addition to the general requirements of PUWER, and deals with the specific risks of lifting equipment and lifting operations.

Relationship with other regulations

8  LOLER should be considered in conjunction with PUWER and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR). The requirements for risk assessment in MHWSR are relevant to lifting equipment and lifting operations.

Enforcement Strategy

9  Inspectors should take a strong line on significant breaches, particularly where there is a risk of injury involved. Formal enforcement action would be appropriate in the following circumstances:

using badly maintained or damaged lifting equipment, inadequate systems of control for lifting equipment, no risk assessment, inadequate inspection or examination of lifting equipment (improvement notice),

Application (regulation 3)

10  In addition to duties on an employer there are duties on a person who has control to any extent of:

lifting equipment,
the way in which lifting equipment is used, or
a person who uses, supervises or manages the use of lifting equipment.

These duties apply to a self-employed person, in respect of lifting operations and equipment they use at work. A self-employed contractor using their own lifting equipment on an installation has duties under all three parts above.

11  ‘Lifting equipment’ means equipment for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. This normally includes jack-up systems, donuts and pad eyes. Lifting equipment is defined by the equipment’s use, not by the item itself. For example a pad eye used for a suspended load, with no lifting or lowering, is not lifting equipment. LOLER does not apply to equipment for moving, pulling or dragging loads along a level surface or to suspended loads with no lifting or lowering (for example BOP stacks roped for stability). The PUWER requirements for suitability and maintenance apply to load-bearing equipment which is not ‘lifting equipment’ or ‘accessories for lifting’ under LOLER.

Equipment for lifting personnel (regulation 5)

12  Regulation 5(1)(c) applies in full offshore, as regulation 5(2) only applies to mines. Guidance on the transfer of personnel by carrier is in Offshore Information Sheet 1/2007 .

Marking of lifting equipment (regulation 7)

13  Equipment for lifting persons should be marked ‘Suitable for man-riding’ or other similar wording. Likewise winches on the drill floor which are not used for lifting persons but are in an area where winches are so used, should be marked ‘Not suitable for man-riding’ or other similar wording.

Thorough examination and inspection (regulation 9)

14  Thorough examination does not specifically include testing. The competent person should ensure that the equipment has been correctly installed and is safe to operate, and should decide if any form of testing is appropriate. It is prudent for new lifting equipment to be load-tested before first use, and for repaired or modified equipment to be load-tested before reuse, but it is for the competent person to decide if it is necessary.

15  Thorough examinations can be undertaken within the periods in regulation 9(3)(a), or within longer periods if the equipment is the subject of a written examination scheme. Examinations can be undertaken by a combination of the periods set by the regulations and those set by a written scheme.

16  Regulation 9(3) requires employers to ensure that lifting equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration liable to result in dangerous situations, is thoroughly examined. ‘Ensure’ implies adequate management arrangements to achieve the requirement. These may include:

Apart from record-keeping, none of these is a specific legal requirement. However it may be difficult for an employer to demonstrate that all thorough examinations have taken place if adequate management arrangements do not exist.


17  LOLER implements an EC Directive and exemptions cannot be granted.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from the OSD Mechanical Engineering team.

Updated 2016-07-29