Lifting equipment in arboriculture


The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (often abbreviated to LOLER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. These pages explain how they apply to arboriculture.

Lifting operations should be properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. For further information on planning lifting operation.

What is lifting equipment in arboriculture?

It is any equipment that lifts or lowers loads, including any attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. For example:

Remember the term 'load' includes a person.

What is not lifting equipment in arboriculture?

Equipment that does not lift or lower loads, for example, winching equipment used at ground level where the load does not leave the ground, such as skidding operations.

Marking of lifting equipment

All lifting equipment, including accessories, must be clearly marked to indicate their 'safe working loads' (SWL) - the maximum load the equipment can safely lift. Examples requiring this in arboriculture include:

ropes, slings, karabiners, strops, and harnesses for rope access; rigging system equipment, particularly to show it is not designed to carry people.

For further advice on marking equipment is available.

Suitability of lifting equipment

Strength of lifting equipment

Arboricultural activities requiring careful consideration for strength include:

Remember that anchor points in trees for:

form part of the lifting equipment.

Arborists using rope access or work positioning should be trained to:

Stability of lifting equipment

LOLER requires you to ensure your lifting equipment will not collapse or overturn when working. Further information is available:

Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) in Tree work

Lifting equipment for lifting people

As a general principle, you should eliminate the risk of a person falling or, if this isn't possible, reduce it, for example:

Where rope access and work positioning systems are necessary, refer to Schedule 5 of the Work At Height Regulations 2005.

Ensure that the main climbing rope and associated equipment are inspected every day by a competent person.

In the event of an emergency a reliable means of rescue must be available and people trained in tree rescue should be available at each work site.

Positioning and installation of lifting equipment

Position and install lifting equipment to reduce, to as low as reasonably practicable:

Position lifting equipment to minimise the need to lift loads over people. Check that:

Ensure loads are not allowed to drift, for example:

Ensure lifting equipment is fitted with suitable devices to minimise the risk of the load (including people) falling freely. Make sure:

Prevent loads from being released unintentionally by:

Thorough examinations and inspections

Thorough examination of lifting equipment is to protect both operators and people in the vicinity of lifting operations who may be at risk if the equipment suddenly failed.

Lifting equipment used to lift loads will require a thorough examination by a competent person. This includes but is not limited to rigging and climbing equipment and machinery such as telehandlers and MEWPs.

Further advice on thorough examinations is available.

Arborists should be trained to carry out a daily pre-use check of their lifting equipment and, in the case of items subject to high levels of wear and tear (ie ropes), a written weekly record of inspection should be kept.

Reports and defects

A person making a thorough examination for an employer should notify defects and make a report of the examination.

For further information on reporting defects is available.


For further information on record keeping is available.

Other legal requirements

LOLER has links with other health and safety legislation which you need to consider when applying the Regulations.