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Lifting equipment in forestry

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

What is lifting equipment in forestry?

Any equipment that lifts or lowers loads, including:

What is not lifting equipment in forestry?

Equipment that does not lift or lower loads, for example:

Planning and organising lifting operations

Lifting operations should be:

It is particularly important that:

Suitability of lifting equipment


Ensure that lifting equipment is strong enough for its proposed use. This should not be a problem for forestry machines when used for their normal design purpose, ie handling trees and timber.

When used for other purposes assess that it is strong enough for the job. This would include activities such as lifting:

The load and anything attached to it should also be of adequate strength. This would, for example, apply to the bar on a grab tank designed to be clasped by a log loader grapple.


Ensure that lifting equipment will not collapse or overturn when working. The risk can be reduced by:

Lifting people

See Lifting equipment in arboriculture for further information.

Positioning and installation

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

Minimise the need to lift loads over people. Check that:

Fit lifting equipment with suitable devices to minimise the risk of the load falling freely. Make sure that:

Safe working load (SWL)

Every item of lifting equipment, including accessories, must be clearly marked to indicate its SWL – the maximum load the equipment can safely lift – and information on the SWL of any machine or accessory used for lifting should be available to the operator.

Where lifting machines have a fixed configuration, the SWL should be marked on the machine.

Where the SWL depends on the machine's configuration, then the operator will need information to keep both machine and loads within the safe working limits for any particular configuration.

During forestry operations ensure that:

Thorough examination

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. Assess equipment and working practices for the risks involved and decide which items have to undergo thorough examination. 

Employers are, in most circumstances, required to ensure their lifting equipment is thoroughly examined when it is put into service.

Normally, machines such as cable cranes and forestry machines that lift as part of their function which do not have appropriate protective structures (whether purpose-built or adapted from other industries) will require thorough examination. However, tree harvesters and forwarders with appropriate protective structures will not require thorough examination.

Equipment used in forestry does not need to be thoroughly examined where:

Where lifting equipment is assessed as needing thorough examination ensure that it is done the first time it is put into service (unless it is has not been used before and has an EC declaration of conformity not more than 12 months old) and then:

When forestry equipment subject to thorough examination is contracted to be used in another employer's business then a copy of the equipment's current thorough examination report should be made available.


Ensure machines that are thoroughly examined are also regularly inspected to detect wear and tear that may make the equipment unsafe to use. Such inspections can be carried out by a competent operator. HSE recommends that:

Reports and defects

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

The competent person should notify the employer immediately of any defect which in their opinion is or could become a danger to people. They should also send a copy of the report to HSE where they consider there is an imminent risk of serious personal injury.

Operators carrying out inspections should report any defect in the equipment which in their opinion could become a danger to people and as soon as practicable make a record of the inspection in writing.

Where a defect has been notified ensure that the lifting equipment is not used before the defect is rectified and it is rectified within the time specified in the report.


Copies of EC declarations of conformity for any lifting equipment should be kept as long as the equipment remains in use.

Information contained in any thorough examination report should be kept available for inspection.

Other legal requirements

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


Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)

Safe use of lifting machinery – Approved Code of Practice and Guidance. L133.

Lifting equipment at work – A brief guide. INDG290 (rev1)

Thorough examination of lifting equipment - A simple guide for employers INDG422