Lifting procedures

This Technical Measures Document refers to issues surrounding lifting procedures and how they can be used to minimise the foreseeable risks of a major hazard accident.

The relevant Level 2 Criteria are:


Many types of lifting equipment are used on major hazards sites. Major lifts to install or remove large plant items will involve the use of large cranes, such as tower cranes, and mobile cranes. However many plant operations will involve the lifting of drums of chemicals, mobile equipment and spares for maintenance using lifting chains, travelling cranes, hoists and lifting trucks. These smaller routine lifts are normally carried out by trained plant operators, whilst larger lifts are undertaken by specialists. Both these aspects are considered in this document.

General principles

The following issues may contribute towards a major accident or hazard:

  • Failure to observe the relevant legal requirements;
  • Ergonomic design of the lifting equipment;
  • Whether the lifting equipment is the appropriate type;
  • Failure of lifting equipment;
  • Strength, stability and location of the lifting equipment;
  • Toxicity and/or flammability of chemicals being lifted or in area of lift;
  • Ability of plant to withstand collisions or impacts from dropped loads;
  • Poorly managed safety systems in place to deal with lifting equipment;
  • Safe access and egress of the lifting equipment to and from the site; and
  • Unconscious and conscious incompetence.

Contributory factors for an assessor to consider concerning lifting procedures

Contributory factors may be:

  • Management systems in place to reduce human error during the commissioning, installation, operation and decommissioning of lifting equipment (Permit to work, safe systems of work, control of contractors);
  • Whether there are sufficient systems, procedures and plans in place to make safe a plant or area of a site before lifting operations commence (isolation, plant shut-down, permit to work systems, barriers and fencing);
  • The risk assessments conducted to determine the potential major accidents and hazards present as a result of using lifting equipment on a site (wind maps, proximity hazards, spillage, overload);
  • Whether staff has been sufficiently informed, instructed, trained and supervised to minimise a potential human failing during use of lifting equipment;
  • Types of lifting equipment in use (mobile cranes, tower cranes, lift trucks, hoists, telescopic handler);
  • Properties of lifting equipment required to be in place within the designated work zone (intrinsically safe, chemical/heat resistant, maximum load and safe jib radius of a mobile crane, correct type of cab heater for a mobile crane);
  • Whether a sufficient frequency of inspections is carried out to identify reduced integrity of the lifting equipment (daily for crane and carrier systems);
  • Qualifications of competent persons to carry out inspections;
  • Maintenance and calibration of lifting equipment;
  • Whether there are sufficient markings on the lifting equipment (maximum permitted load, derating values);
  • There is sufficient edge protection;
  • The integrity and continuing integrity of the lifting equipment with respect to their environment (corrosive/chemical resistance, storage of the equipment, strength and stability);
  • Human behaviour (stress, fatigue, perception of information contained in method statements, safe systems of work, misuse).

Major hazards

The safety report should address the following points:

  • Consequences of collision/impacts of mobile lifting equipment, loads and dropped loads with process plant, pipework, electrical cables and people;
  • Control of lifting operations to prevent collisions/impacts;
  • Adequacy of management systems to identify human failings during the use of lifting equipment;
  • Adequacy of inspection regime;
  • Training of operators in the use of lifting equipment;
  • Risk assessments of lifting operations;
  • Overturning and overloading;
  • Power failure of lifting equipment during lifting mode.

Codes of Practice relating to lifting procedures

The following HSE publications can be used as guidance material relating to safety issues surrounding lifting procedures:

  • L113, 'Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998: Safe use of Lifting Equipment. Approved Code of Practice and Guidance', HSE Legislation Series.
    The regulations deal with specific hazards/risks associated with lifting equipment and lifting operations.
  • L22, 'Safe use of Work Equipment', HSE Legislation Series, 1998.
    Provides guidance on PUWER.
  • L20, 'Guide to Lifting Plant and Equipment (Records of Test Examination etc) Regulations', HSE Legislation Series, 1992.
    Now replaced by L113.
  • HS(G)6, 'Safety in Working with Lifting Trucks', HSE Guidance Note, 1992.
    Paragraph 53(n) refers to lifting chains fitted to lifting trucks and mentions that they should be checked by a competent person and that it is a mandatory requirement to examine them.
    Paragraph 66 refers to the fitment of a crane jib attachment. There are certain legal requirements covering the testing and examination of cranes as highlighted in paragraph 112 which refers to a mandatory requirement of at least six monthly inspections.
    Paragraph 71 refers to the precautions necessary when stacking with counterbalanced lift trucks.
    Paragraph 72 refers to the precautions necessary when de-stacking with counterbalanced lift trucks.
    Paragraph 89 refers to lifting trucks fitted with stabilising jacks. It emphasises that the operator should be aware of the lifting capacity with and without the jacks down. If used, the jacks should be on firm, level ground. Also the operator should be familiar with limitations concerning the use of axle locks and lateral levelling.
  • 'Safe handling of materials in the printing industry', Health and Safety Commission, Printing Industry Advisory Committee (PIAC), Printing Industry Advisory Committee Report, 1988.
    Paragraph 65 refers to cranes or beam mounted pulley blocks used for lifting reels and emphasises the importance that all operators and slingers should be trained in the correct lifting procedures and appointed in writing by the company. The signalling system in BS CP 3010 {British Standard CP 3010 : 1972 Safe use of cranes, ISBN 0 58 007590 7} should be used between operator and slinger or other people.
  • 'Approved requirements and test methods for the classification and packaging of dangerous goods for carriage : Carriage of Dangerous Goods (Classification, Packaging and Labelling) and Use of Transportable Pressure Receptacles Regulations 1996 : Approved Requirements'.
    SECTION B: Approved Requirements for Packaging, Paragraph 26, refers to the means for lifting or other mechanical handling. It requires that the lifting equipment should be able to withstand continuous use so that at all times during its life time it would not cause damage to packaging and hence leakage and spills during carriage.
    SECTION B: Approved Requirements For Packaging, Paragraph 142, refers to the lifting of receptacles containing bromine. It stresses the need to provide fittings enabling them to be stable when standing upright and with lifting attachments (rings, flanges, etc) at the top, which should be tested at twice the working load.
  • PM55, 'Safe working with overhead travelling cranes', HSE Guidance Note, 1985.
    Paragraph 8 refers to the necessity for lifting operations including their supervision to be properly considered and planned by a person who has adequate experience and competence.
    Paragraph 9 refers to the criteria that should be addressed by the responsible person who is planning the lifting.
    Paragraph 11 refers to the care required by a responsible person who has the overall responsibility of planning unusual or difficult lifting operations. For example, tandem and multiple lifting (ie lifts shared between more than one crane) require particular care and attention. Advice is given in BS 5744 on these matters and should be followed.
    Paragraph 19 refers to the need for over head travelling cranes to be provided with an efficient device to prevent overhoisting; the device should be properly maintained and should be tested daily by the crane driver.
  • HS(G)33, 'Health and safety in roof work', HSE Guidance Note, 1998.
    Paragraph 31 refers to the need for all hooks used in lifting operations to be fitted with safety catches.
    Paragraph 33 refers to the need for access areas below lifting points to be controlled, for example, by temporary fencing.
    Paragraph 171 refers to the necessity of roof workers to be trained in safe working practices when setting up a hoist or lifting appliance.
    Paragraph 5 of Appendix 6 refers to the need to ensure that lifting equipment used, e.g. pulleys, blocks ropes etc is suitable and in good condition, before and after each job.
  • HS(G)40 Safe handling of chlorine from drums and cylinders, HSE, 1999.
    Paragraphs 38 and 39 give guidance on lifting of chlorine drums.

Further reading material

Lifting Equipment Engineers Association

Case studies illustrating the importance of lifting procedures

Marathon Petroleum Refinery - Texas (30/10/1987)

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