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Lifting equipment used for lifting people at work

People can be at greater risk of harm when they are lifted by machinery (eg operators of mobile elevated work platforms may collide with overhead structures and mobile access equipment may be at higher risk of overturning, potentially resulting in serious or fatal injuries). The increased risks for lifting equipment require greater levels of safety in their:

  • design and manufacture
  • use and maintenance
  • inspection and thorough examination

Design and construction requirements for workplace lifting equipment

Almost all lifting equipment used by people at work comes within scope of the Machinery Directive. This Directive, which is implemented in the UK by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, requires that equipment is safe when first placed on the market or put into service for the first time. Under the Directive, manufacturers of lifting equipment have to design and construct lifting equipment to meet additional specific essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs), to offset hazards through lifting operations and where people are being lifted. These requirements are listed in Annex 1 of the Machinery Directive and are repeated in Schedule 2 of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations (see EHSRs 4 and 6). 

When issuing a Declaration of Conformity for lifting equipment, manufacturers have to assess its design and construction against these requirements, undertaking inspection, examination and testing as necessary to meet them, as well as meeting industry-accepted quality and safety standards. The Declaration of Conformity may therefore be a substitute for the initial thorough examination before first use, if the lifting equipment does not depend on post-manufacture assembly or installation conditions.

Manufacturers must indicate clearly, by markings on the equipment and within the instructions, if the lifting machinery is intended for lifting people. 

Use of lifting equipment for lifting people

There is a very wide range of specially designed equipment for lifting people, enabling them to work safely at height. The correct type of equipment should always be selected for the task in hand and it is vital that the activity is properly planned through risk assessment. The risk assessment should also take account of the specific requirements of LOLER (regulation 5) and the Approved Code of Practice for lifting people. Some people using the equipment may be less familiar with the risks so training and adequate supervision in the operation of the equipment are very important.

The use of lifting equipment which has not been specifically designed for lifting people should only occur in exceptional circumstances (eg for rescue purposes). In these cases, additional safety precautions may need to be taken, such as only using base lifting machines with additional safety measures (such as check valves and locking the tilt function). The HSE guidance for non-integrated work platforms on forklift trucks provides further information on this issue, in relation to non-integrated platforms or man-baskets which are traditionally fitted to the forks of lift trucks.

Frequency of thorough examinations for lifting equipment used to lift people

Where people are being lifted - whether the lifting equipment is designed to lift them or not - the equipment must be thoroughly examined at six-monthly intervals, or in accordance with the examination scheme. Other pre-use checks and inspections may also need to be undertaken to ensure safety.

Updated: 2012-08-23