Power operated cellar hoists for beer containers

Health & Safety Executive/Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA)

Local Authority Circular

  • Subject: Lifting Machinery
  • Open Government Status: Fully Open
  • LAC Number: 49/10
  • Publication Date: 22/06/2010
  • Review Date: 22/06/2015

This circular gives advice to all visiting staff including local authority enforcement officers.


Cellar hoists are used by delivery workers or premises staff to place full kegs of beer into cellars and to retrieve empty kegs or kegs of spoiled beer. This is the primary use of cellar hoists but they may also be suitable for the transport of compressed gas cylinders and other items such as crates, boxes and bins to and from the cellar or between floor levels in a building. These secondary uses often require the fitment of accessories such as a tray. The suitability of a cellar hoist for a particular task will be dependant on its design and the accessories that the manufacturer offers.

Vertical cellar hoist

Fig 1: Vertical cellar hoist

This LAC does not address goods lifts, passenger lifts or mobile lifting equipment (eg fork lift trucks). Guidance relating to lifting equipment can be found at the Guidance for Regulators Information Point (GRIP) web pages.

Hoists that fulfil any of the following criteria cannot be considered to be cellar hoists and this LAC will not be appropriate.

Goods lifts, dumb waiters, passenger lifts, stair lifts and mobile lifting equipment are not cellar hoists this LAC will not apply even when this type of equipment is used to transport beer.

Cellar hoists are not suitable for carrying persons and this should not be permitted in any workplace.

This LAC refers to the 'premises duty holder' – this is the person who owns or operates the premises and controls the work done there.

'Cellar' is a term for an area where drinks are stored; this can be at any level within a building/.


Licensed premises have historically kept beer and other stock in cellars. Delivery of beer and the movement of stock between floor levels in these premises has often required extensive manual handling and manufacturers have offered cellar hoists as a mechanical aid.

Cellar hoists can reduce manual handling and offer a more predictable and controlled means of delivering beer into a cellar when compared to the traditional system eg drop bags or skids.


Typical cellar hoists have some similarities in design to the lifting equipment fitted to fork lift trucks. Hydraulic power is typically employed either through cylinders or rotary motors. Wire rope or chains are often used to suspend the cradle.

Inclined cellar hoist carrying gas bottles

Fig2: Inclined cellar hoist carrying gas bottles

Instead of the forks found on a fork lift truck cellar hoists usually employ a cradle that has been designed to carry beer kegs.

The cradle typically travels on a guide or guides, these may be vertical or inclined so that the carriage can travel from a loading area (usually at ground level) outside the building to a cellar within the building.

At the base of the guides an attachment is often fitted that removes the keg from the cradle.

Typical controls may be as simple as a means of switching electrical power on or off and a single lever that controls the ascent or descent of the carriage.

Some reliable means of preventing over-run should be fitted to prevent the cradle travelling beyond its normal range.

Legal requirements

Cellar hoists are classed as both lifting equipment and work equipment. The Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) therefore apply. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (and 2007 amendment) may also apply to hoist use.

All hoists supplied after the 1st of January 1993 must be CE marked and have a Declaration of Conformity.  As required by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2009 (SMR 2009).

Other requirements include:

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 also apply. Installation of a hoist constitutes construction work and the designer is required to avoid foreseeable risks. All parties (designer, client, installer etc) are required to co-operate and co-ordinate their activities to ensure health and safety. 


Several hazards are present in the use of cellar hoists, including:

Load safety

Cellar hoist carrying cases on a tray (supplied by hoist manufacturer as an accessory)

Fig 3: Cellar hoist carrying cases on a tray (supplied by hoist manufacturer as an accessory)

Loads should only be carried if the hoist has been designed or adequately modified to carry them safely. A flat tray is often available as an accessory for the transport of crates and boxes. Inadequate support for loads, carrying excessive numbers of items and mixing goods on the hoist can lead to 'lost load' accidents and should be controlled by duty holders training hoist users in safe methods and then enforcing their use.

Carriage of pressurised gas containers (eg gas cylinders used to pressurise beer supply lines) is an activity that must be closely controlled. A falling cylinder can act as a projectile if its external valve is damaged. Duty holders should ensure that the hoist is capable of safely carrying gas containers and the hoist user is aware of the hazard and the safe system of work to be followed.

Segregation of hoist area

Removing people from the immediate area below the load and the area around the hoist as it operates ensures that they are not injured by moving parts of the hoist or falling loads. It may however prove impractical to operate the hoist in a fully fenced or guarded area. For example a trapping hazard between the guarding and rolling beer kegs may be introduced. As a result other controls such as removal of all non-essential personnel from the cellar when the hoist is operating and temporary barriers may be more appropriate. If the hoist can be classified as a cellar hoist (see Introduction for definition) then it is not a requirement for interlocked doors or gates to be fitted. Risk assessment of the individual hoist in the particular workplace should inform the choice and application of safeguards.

Hoist controls

Hoist carriage controls must require the operator to hold a button or lever to maintain hoist movement (ie 'hold to run' controls). These should be sited so that the hoist user cannot be injured by falling loads. This can be achieved by siting the control at a sufficient distance (See BS EN ISO 13857: 2008 – listed in bibliography) from the hoist and/or providing robust guarding. The operator must have a clear view of the hoist and surrounding area. The requirement for a clear view of the operating areas means that the control must be sited at the bottom of the hoist.

Only one control station should be fitted, it is not acceptable to have controls at the top and bottom of the hoist. The control station should be fixed in place with no pendant ,'wander lead' or radio remote control available.

At least one emergency stop (e-stop) should be provided adjacent to the control station. Risk assessment should identify if there is a requirement for further emergency stops in other positions. 

Loading the hoist

Where there is a risk of falls from height whilst a delivery is taking place appropriate control measures must be introduced, regardless of the presence of a hoist.

Hoists are commonly used to transfer beer and other goods from ground level to a cellar. A hatch or trap door is opened and the hoist lifted to position before goods are loaded onto the carriage. Access cannot be denied to all edges of the open hatch as this would prevent use of the hoist. Delivery workers or others loading the hoist should be trained in its safe use. The area around the hatch should be fitted with barriers to prevent inadvertent access and consideration should be given to the provision of a trained marshal or marshals to police segregation and direct members of the public (MoPs) around the loading area. The decision to provide marshals should be informed by the number of (MoPs) in the vicinity of the loading area and local factors such as the proximity of schools or street layout etc.

If the hoist is loaded through a vertical opening (eg doorway) then consideration should be given to the provision of edge protection. The design of this edge protection should allow the hoist to be loaded. Where a hatch (ie opening in the floor) is provided in existing premises it may prove possible to fit a bar or other device at, or below, ground level that would prevent or reduce the likelihood of fall through the hatch.

In all cases the size of the opening should be reduced to the minimum that would allow deliveries to take place safely. Any modifications should be robust and capable of preventing falls.

Proprietary systems are available which either automatically deploy barriers when hatches or trap doors are opened or hold the hatches in a position where they will act as a barrier. The duty holder should have considered the use of one of these systems as part of the risk assessment process.

Where access to the cellar is in a public area the door or hatch should be secured at all times when it is not in use.

Where hoists are supplied to existing premises the person carrying out the installation should co-operate with the duty holder to ensure that the hoist can be fitted and used safely. If a number of contractors are used, eg to fit the hoist, fit the access hatch or door, fit controls etc then the premises duty holder should ensure that a risk assessment is first carried which informs a safe system of hoist use. The requirements of the safe system (eg siting of controls) must then be agreed with each contractor before work commences.

When a hoist is supplied and fitted the supplying/fitting company should inform the appropriate duty holder of any residual hazards that remain when the installation is complete.

Carrying persons

Cellar hoists are not suitable for carrying persons. Falls from a hoist either as a result of work activity or horseplay are clearly foreseeable. All employees should be fully aware of the disciplinary procedures that would follow the discovery of a 'person carrying' incident. These procedures should be robust and fully implemented.


When building, converting or refurbishing premises the method of delivering and storing stock should be addressed by the designer so that foreseeable risks (eg falls) are avoided. The Construction Design Management Regulations 2015 (CDM) define roles (eg designer) which must be fulfilled.

The installer and the premises duty holder should co-operate before a hoist is fitted, they should determine that it can be fitted used and maintained safely.

The hoist should not be considered in isolation. For example use of the hoist will entail use of access doors and hatches, or the kegs rolling from the base of the hoist could damage electrical equipment. The activity of using the hoist should be considered as a whole.

The hoist should not project above the upper floor surface (eg the pavement) unless it is suitably enclosed.

The level of health & safety co-operation required should be specified to hoist suppliers when requesting tenders.

Arrangements must be made between the installer and customer to ensure that the area of installation area is safe at all stages including when the installation is finished.


The hoist supplier should provide instructions on the installation, maintenance and safe use of the hoist. These should be readily available for hoist users and those carrying out maintenance or installation. The premises duty holder should take account of this information when carrying out risk assessments and producing safe systems of work.

Thorough examination

Hoists will require thorough examination by a competent person in compliance with the Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

When a hoist is fitted into premises it should be thoroughly examined after installation and before being put into use for the first time. Hoists also require thorough examination before use, if they are moved to a new site or a new location or have been subject to an exceptional circumstance.

Periodic thorough examination is also required. This is often carried out at 12 monthly intervals. Alternatively if a scheme of examination has been drawn up by a competent person then the hoist will require examination as stated in that scheme.

The accessory tray supplied to allow hoists to carry boxes and crates does not normally require periodic thorough examination under the Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It is not classified as a lifting accessory unless loads are suspended from it. It should be inspected for deterioration that could result in a dangerous situation under Regulation 6 (2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Thorough examination and maintenance  should not be confused. BOTH must be carried out. 

In service inspection

The hoist should be inspected to ensure safety. This should be carried out before use (eg start of working day) and at other times as stated by the manufacturer. This is the responsibility of the premises duty holder and he must ensure that the person carrying out the inspection is competent.


The hoist should be maintained in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. Whilst this is often carried out by the manufacturing company on contract terms this is not a legal requirement and the duty holder may undertake maintenance using the services of other persons or his own employees. The statutory requirement is to demonstrate that the hoist has been maintained to ensure safety.

A maintenance log should be kept up to date and should include details of any repairs that have been carried out.

Thorough examination and maintenance  should not be confused. BOTH must be carried out. 


Safe use of cellar hoists requires that sufficient information, instruction and training (I, I &T) is given to all who operate the hoist or assist loading or unloading operations. If the hoist is purchased from its manufacturer or a reputable dealer then they should be able to either offer suitable training or direct their customer to a suitable training provider. If this is not the case then the duty holder must employ other suitable means of supplying I, I & T. Delivery workers often use hoists and their employer should co-operate with the duty holder at the premises to ensure that they receive suitable I, I & T.

Other tasks such as hoist inspection or minor maintenance may require workers to be trained. The premises duty holder must ensure workers carrying out these tasks are competent.

The quality of training and instruction can be diluted by passing it from one worker to the next. The duty holder should consider the need for I, I &T to be 'adequate' and therefore a system should be considered where only those who have been trained by a manufacturer or competent training provider should provide training 'in house'.

Risk assessment

Suitable and sufficient risk assessments must be carried out by the hoist installer, premises duty holder and any third parties that work with the hoist.

The premises duty holder will need to assess the risks to employees, the public and visitors to the premises (eg contractors).

The installer will need to assess risks inherent in the installation process. Amongst the risks should be that of possible asbestos containing materials that may be disturbed as a result of the installation, use of the hoist and also inform the premises duty holder of residual risks that remain when the hoist is fitted.

The premises duty holder and installer should co-operate to ensure that risks are properly controlled at all stages of the installation.

Steps to Cellar Hoist Use

Steps to Cellar Hoist Use
Activity Duty Holder
Identify suitable cellar hoist Premises duty holder
Design hoist installation Premises duty holder
Risk assess use and maintenance of proposed hoist Premises duty holder and employer of other users (eg delivery workers) and proposed maintenance company
Identify asbestos containing materials that may be disturbed as a result of installation Hoist installation company and premises duty holder.
Risk assess installation of hoist Hoist installation company and premises duty holder
Install hoist Hoist installation company and premises duty holder
Thorough examination of hoist prior to first use Premises duty holder
Re – visit risk assessments prior to use Premises duty holder and employer of other users (eg delivery workers) and proposed maintenance company
Train users in safe method of hoist operation and inspection Premises duty holder
Put hoist into use Premises duty holder and employer of other users (eg delivery workers)
Maintain hoist Premises duty holder and maintenance company
Periodic thorough examination of hoist Premises duty holder
Supervise inspection and use of hoist Premises duty holder

Cellar Hoists - bibliography:

British Standards:

Statutory Instruments:

Approved Codes of Practice:

 HSE publications:

Sources of publications

Updated 2021-01-29