Application of the provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 and the lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations 1998 to motor vehicle repair

OC 803/69

This OC provides guidance to inspectors and others on the application of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998 to the motor vehicle repair industry. This version updates information in the previous 2002 version and clarifies the periodicity between thorough examinations for vehicle lifts following legal advice in 2010. Consultation has taken place with representatives from the MVR industry and others in the writing of this and previous versions of this OC.


1 There have been many enquiries from the motor vehicle repair (MVR) and associated industries, eg vehicle recovery operators, about the application of PUWER and LOLER to particular types of work equipment used in these industries. The enquiries have mostly been concerned with the requirements relating to thorough examination and inspections.

2 While some clarification on the application of these Regulations is important, the emphasis should always be on the overall arrangements for managing work activities with work equipment (including lifting equipment) and the proper maintenance of work equipment, where thorough examination and inspections have a part to play.

3 In particular, attention needs to be drawn to the following:

  1. Operator pre-use checks: PUWER reg.4 (suitability of work equipment) is considered to include an implicit requirement for appropriate and usually simple, operator pre-use checks of work equipment;
  2. Maintenance: the maintenance requirements of PUWER reg.5 refer to a state to be achieved, not the means of achieving it; and
  3. Inspection (PUWER reg.6); and thorough examination and inspection (LOLER reg.9) where applicable, should be seen as a related package of requirements.

4 The requirements of PUWER and LOLER act together. While PUWER deals with the non-lifting aspects of work equipment, such as the choice of equipment for a specific task, maintenance and training etc, LOLER covers lifting aspects such as initial installation, the way the lifting operation is carried out and thorough examination requirements.

5 PUWER and LOLER are risk based, and emphasis should be placed on carrying out a suitable risk assessment to determine the nature and frequency of both maintenance and inspections. Guidance on appropriate frequencies is given in BS7980:2003 "Vehicle lifts – Installation, maintenance, thorough examination and safe use – Code of practice" and more specific advice should be available from the work equipment manufacturer.

6 The importance of proper maintenance of all work equipment should not be underestimated, and be based on a combination of:

  1. operator pre-use checks;
  2. daily, weekly, monthly, six monthly inspection as appropriate by a competent person
  3. servicing/maintenance according to manufacturers/suppliers advice; and
  4. in the case of lifting equipment, thorough examination by a competent person.

PUWER 98 and MVR

7 All tools, machinery, plant and equipment used at work ('work equipment') are covered by the requirements of PUWER. Equipment not owned by the business but being used by it for a work activity, for example a tool owned by an employee, a borrowed tool or a customer's bottle jack, is also covered and it is the responsibility of the user to ensure that it complies with the all legal requirements. Work equipment which is also lifting equipment will be subject to the requirements of LOLER as far as the lifting parts are concerned, and PUWER for the remainder.

8 Work equipment includes commercial motor vehicles such as recovery vehicles, vans and lorries. However, it does not cover a privately owned vehicle, such as a customer's car, even if it is being test driven as part of the work activity. For works vehicles which go onto public roads, more specific road traffic legislation, eg MOTs, will take precedence over PUWER, as far as statutory tests and maintenance is concerned. Therefore, PUWER and LOLER will only apply to the parts of vehicles not covered by the MOT.

9 PUWER requires that work equipment is suitable. Machinery which is 'CE marked' should be accompanied by an instruction manual which contains information on the normal conditions of use of the machine. Advice should always be sought from manufacturers and/or suppliers where work equipment is proposed to be used for tasks for which it was not designed and tested.

LOLER 98 and MVR

10 LOLER will apply widely in MVR, but the extent of its application will vary with the risk. Buildings are not work equipment, but where parts of a building are a part of, or support lifting equipment, LOLER will apply to them in as much as their suitability to support the lifting equipment and its loading capability needs to be assessed. The LOLER Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) L113² clearly states that for LOLER to apply the principal function of the work equipment should be 'to lift a load'. Equipment that lifts itself, or parts of itself such as cab tilt and tipper body mechanisms, are not lifting equipment as defined in LOLER. Equally, winches or similar equipment used for moving loads on level ground, or even small inclines such as onto recovery vehicles would not attract the application of LOLER.

11 Some other garage equipment may well fall within the definition of 'lifting equipment', but if the risks from the lifting operation are judged to be low, little will be required to meet the requirements of these Regulations. However, if equipment is exposed to conditions causing deterioration likely to result in danger then a thorough examination is required. However, it may be more appropriate to carry out more frequent in-house inspection of the relevant parts (LOLER or PUWER) to ensure any deterioration is identified at an early stage.

Inspections and thorough examinations

12 PUWER reg.6 'inspections', normally undertaken in-house, are expected for higher risk types of work equipment, the use of which could foreseeably result in serious personal injury or worse. Guidance on the types of equipment which should and should not receive an 'inspection' is given in L22 Safe use of work equipment PUWER ACOP, paras 152-153.

As a general rule, an 'inspection' should be carried out:

"Where work equipment is of a type where the safe operation is critically dependent on its condition in use and deterioration would lead to a significant risk to the operator or other workers."

For example, axle stands used in MVR were originally considered as possible candidates for reg.6 'inspections'. However, while the potential for the most serious injury should one fail is clear, it was considered that operator pre-use checks by vehicle mechanics should be able to detect defects such as bent steel work, broken welds or incorrect/damaged support pins on axles with extendible columns. In this case formal 'inspection' is not required for axle stands.

13 PUWER reg.6 'inspections' will normally be expected for any works vehicle not used on the public highway and, therefore, not subject to an MOT. While such vehicles may not have widespread use in the garage trade, they could well be found in MVR workshops on large industrial sites, eg where businesses service/repair their own vehicles. In the case of commercial vehicles which go onto public roads, HSE and the former DETR agreed that the more specific road traffic legislation, eg MOTs will take precedence over PUWER, as far as statutory tests and maintenance is concerned. Therefore, PUWER and LOLER will only apply to the parts of vehicles not covered by the MOT.

14 Risk assessments carried out to meet the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Management Regulations)³ Regulation 3 should identify any significant risks from the use of the work equipment. Where regular inspection or thorough examination of the equipment would address such risks, eg failure of a component through wear, PUWER or LOLER (as appropriate) would require periodic inspections and/or thorough examination. The requirement for inspection or thorough examination will also apply before it is put into first use (or relocation etc) and also following exceptional circumstances (eg following collision damage to a vehicle lift).

15 PUWER requires that work equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration liable to result in dangerous situations is inspected at suitable intervals to ensure that its integrity is maintained and any deterioration detected and remedied in good time. Examples of such equipment found in MVR would include engine stands, hydraulic presses, rolling-road brake testers, tow ropes and towing bars, as well as items mentioned in paragraphs 19-28. The Management Regulations risk assessment should determine whether the work equipment could deteriorate in such a way as to pose a potential risk to operators or others. The scope of the PUWER inspection and the competence of the person who carries it out, will depend on the findings of that assessment.

16 LOLER requires lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined by a competent person:

  1. before first use, unless the equipment is accompanied by a declaration of conformity made not more than 12 months previously; and
  2. where safety depends on the installation conditions, after installation whether or not it has a recent declaration of conformity.

Periodic thorough examinations are also required:

  1. In the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons (eg vehicle lifts where persons are elevated in the vehicle), or a lifting accessory (eg slings, chains, eye bolts etc) at least every six months,
  2. in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or in either case, in accordance with a scheme of examination laid down by a competent person.
  3. in either case, in accordance with a scheme of examination laid down by a competent person.

Additionally a thorough examination is required if the lifting equipment is exposed to 'exceptional circumstances' which are liable to jeopardize the safety of the equipment, such as following the overturning of an engine hoist.

17 With the exception of vehicle hoists/lifts and jacks, most of the lifting equipment used in garage premises is of a 'traditional' type, ie engine hoist, chain block, chain and other slings, eye bolts etc plus the occasional mobile crane. All these items should be subject to the normal frequencies of thorough examination by competent persons for 'lifting equipment' (12-monthly) and for 'lifting accessories' (6-monthly).

18 The following inspection and thorough examination schedules are considered appropriate for work equipment used in MVR. The list is not exhaustive and the guidance, which is summarised in the table at the appendix, is based on typical uses in the industry. Where equipment is used in unusual circumstances or is exposed to untypical conditions, an individual risk assessment should be carried out and, if necessary, advice sought from the manufacturer/supplier or other suitably qualified person.

Vehicle lifts

19 In the case of vehicle lifts, the requirement for periodic thorough examination is contained under LOLER (Reg 9(3)). Where persons are not elevated in a vehicle on the lift Reg 9(3)(a)(ii) would initially indicate examination at least every 12 months. Where there is evidence that persons are elevated on the lift then examination at least every six months is required under Reg 9(3)(a)(i).

20 Risk assessment should conclude that the risks to persons who routinely work beneath a vehicle raised on a lift, would indicate a six monthly examination is more appropriate. This is similarly recommended by BS 7980:2003 'Vehicle lifts – Installation, maintenance, thorough examination and safe use – Code of Practice'. The LOLER ACOP L113 paragraph 312 allows a competent person to specify shorter intervals than those specified in Reg 9(3)(a)(i) and (ii) if they consider it appropriate, or in accordance with an examination scheme in Reg 9(3)(a)(iii). It is common practice in the industry to have six monthly thorough examination for all types of vehicle lifts.

Body alignment jigs

21 Many alignment jigs used in body repairs have features similar to those of vehicle lifts. Similar considerations will apply, though persons may not always or regularly work underneath particular jigs. If this is the case, then a 12-monthly period for thorough examination may be appropriate.

Vehicle jacks

22 There is a long history of fatal and serious injuries resulting from the failure of vehicle jacks, eg trolley and bottle jacks. Where they are used as part of garage equipment, they should be regarded as lifting equipment and subject to thorough examination by a competent person. However, jacks provided as part of the equipment of a motor vehicle will not normally be regarded as subject to LOLER unless they are to be used as part of garage equipment.

Engine lifting brackets

23 Where lifting brackets on vehicle engines are permanently attached to the engine, they will be regarded as part of the load and not as lifting equipment. Those brackets which are kept as part of the garage equipment should be treated as 'accessories for lifting' and therefore, subject to LOLER.

Lifting equipment on vehicles

24 Examination procedures under road transport legislation concentrate solely on the road worthiness of the vehicle. They may be sufficient for the requirements of PUWER, however, MOT testing does not include lifting equipment and will not serve the purposes of LOLER.

25 LOLER applies to lifting equipment mounted on vehicles, such as loader cranes fitted to assist with delivery of goods and materials, for example in vehicle disposal operations for loading/unloading scrap vehicles onto lorry beds. British Standard BS7121-4:2010 Safe use of cranes Part 4 Loader cranes and the Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers and Importers of Great Britain Code of Practice for the Installation, Application and Operation of Lorry Loaders provide further information.

26 Equipment which lifts part of a vehicle but not a load, for example cab tilt and tipper body mechanisms, is not subject to LOLER but a risk assessment should be carried out to determine whether failure could cause injury and if regular inspection under PUWER is required.

Handling aids

27 Handling aids such as wheel lifters and similar devices are lifting equipment under LOLER. However, most will be at the relatively low end of the risk scale and usually suitable candidates for schemes of thorough examination with extended periods between examinations, possibly in-house, by suitably independent and impartial competent persons.

Recovery vehicles and associated equipment

28 Some recovery vehicles will have lifting devices which are very obviously cranes and should be treated as such under LOLER. Moveable beds and ramps will not normally be subject to LOLER, nor will winches as their main purpose is dragging the casualty vehicle over level ground or onto the bed of the recovery vehicle.

29 Spectacle frames used for recovering cars and light commercial vehicles will be considered subject to LOLER if they lift the vehicle and support it whilst towing. Towing dollies will not be subject to LOLER as the weight is supported on a pair of small wheels. British Standard BS7121-12 1999 Safe use of cranes - Part 12 Recovery vehicles and equipment, BS7901:2002 Recovery vehicles (product standard) and PAS43:2010 Safe working of vehicle breakdown, recovery and removal operations – Management system specification contain useful information.

Action by Inspectors

30 Where inspectors encounter the use of lifting equipment and work equipment, other than hand tools, in MVR premises they should ask relevant questions to determine whether the requirements of PUWER and LOLER are being met. In particular, attention should be paid to the following key issues:

  1. strength and suitability of lifting equipment (LOLER reg.4);
  2. operator pre-use checks (PUWER reg.4);
  3. maintenance (PUWER reg.5); and
  4. thorough examination and inspection of lifting equipment, inspections of work equipment (LOLER reg.9 and PUWER reg.6)

Enforcement guidance

31 The following is a guide to when enforcement is appropriate. It is based on the Enforcement Management Model (EMM) Operational Version 3.0. Any action taken should reflect any subsequent changes to EMM. The final decision on enforcement should also take account of local factors.


32 There is a risk of serious personal injury to persons, including members of the public, working or otherwise beneath a vehicle supported on a lift or jack, or on a raised vehicle lift. There are also risks to such persons when vehicle parts are being supported or moved by garage equipment.

Immediacy of risk

33 The legal requirements of PUWER and LOLER combine both risk based requirements and compliance or administrative requirements. When considering enforcement action, immediate risks should be dealt with before consideration of securing administrative requirements. For example, preventing the use of a clearly defective piece of lifting equipment where persons could be at risk of serious injury should take priority over requests for thorough examination of the lifting equipment. In the former case, inspectors should consider issuing a prohibition notice (PN) on the defective equipment, as discussed in EMM Chapter 2, Section 2.

Benchmark standard

34 The benchmark for safety risks should be considered as a nil/negligible risk of serious personal injury for circumstances where persons are working under vehicles. This should be achieved by the provision of suitable equipment which is properly maintained and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Adequate training and supervision should be given as appropriate. Other example benchmark risks are given in the table below.

Risk gap

35 The risk gap as derived from EMM table 2.1 for typical situations likely to be encountered in MVR premises are summarized below. Inspectors may use the scenarios as a guide to making their assessment of the actual risk, and the subsequent risk gap. Inspectors must, however, ensure that their assessment of risk is based on the factors encountered on site.

Scenario Actual risk Benchmark Risk Risk gap
Poorly maintained vehicle lift, evidence of frayed cables, persons working underneath vehicle Possible risk of serious injury Nil/negligible risk of serious personal injury Extreme
Frayed webbing sling used to lift engine into car Possible risk of significant injury Nil/negligible risk of significant injury Moderate
Axle stand used off vehicle to support heavy/bulky items, eg gearbox Possible risk of minor injury Remote risk of minor injury Nominal

Initial enforcement expectation (IEE)

36 The following are relevant to deriving the authority of standards for use in EMM Table 5.1 and hence for deciding the IEE.

Title Authority
Safe use of work equipment: PUWER 98 ACOP (L22) Defined
Safe use of lifting equipment: LOLER 98 ACOP (L113) Defined
OC 803/69 Application of PUWER and LOLER to motor vehicle repair Established

37 EMM considers the risk assessment as an administrative measure and the standard as 'defined'. The standard can be found in L21 Management of health and safety at work: Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance and any absence or inadequacies with an assessment should be considered using EMM Table 5.2.

38 Support from specialist group (SG) inspectors may be required where enforcement action is proposed because of defects likely to be a safety risk.

Date first issued: 10 February 2011


  1. L22: safe use of work equipment: Provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 approved code of practice and guidance
  2. L113:safe use of lifting equipment: Lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations 1998 approved code of practice and guidance
  3. L21:management of health and safety at work management of health and safety at work regulations 1998 approved code of practice and guidance

Appendix 1: Summary of recommended inspection/thorough examination requirements for equipment used in motor vehicle repair (para12)

Work Equipment LOLER reg.9
(refer to paragraph)
Axle stands Not normally Not normally 12
Body aligning jigs 12 months 12 months 21
Chain blocks 12 months 17
Cab/body tilt mechanism 12 months 26
Lorry mounted
Mobile crane

12 months
12 months
Engine hoist 12 months 17
Engine stands 12 months 15
Engine lifting brackets
- if accessory for lifting
6 months 23
Eye bolts 6 months 17
Gearbox lifting table 12 months 27
Hydraulic press 12 months 15
Bottle jacks
Trolley jacks
Vehicle equipment

12 months
12 months
Not normally

Not normally

Lifting slings: chain/webbing 6 months 17
Ramps 12 months 28
Recovery truck:
A-Frame crane
Jib crane
Spectacle lift
Towing dollies

12 months
12 months
12 months

12 months

Rolling road brake tester 12 months 15
Tail lifts 6 months 27
Tipper rams 12 months 26
Tow ropes 6 months 15
Towing bars 6 months 15
Vehicle hoists/lifts 6/12 months 19/20
Wheel lifters 12 months 27
Winch 12 months 28

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Updated 10.02.11