Machinery - Frequently asked questions


What does LOLER apply to?

LOLER (the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) apply to any lifting equipment used at work - including employees' own lifting equipment - for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. However, the Regulations do not extend to fixed anchor points that form part of a building or structure.

LOLER covers a wide range of equipment, including:

  • cranes
  • fork-lift trucks
  • lifts
  • hoists
  • mobile elevating work platforms
  • vehicle inspection platform hoists

The Regulations also include lifting accessories, such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. LOLER does not apply to escalators, which are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

When do the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply?

LOLER applies to work equipment used for lifting operations (ie 'operations concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load'). The Regulations also apply to the safe installation, marking and thorough examination / inspection of lifting equipment. These requirements must be met by employers, the relevant self-employed and by people who have control over work equipment. If you are self-employed and your work poses no risk to the health and safety of others, then health and safety law may not apply to you. HSE has guidance to help you understand if the law applies. The recording of examinations and inspections is also required by LOLER, and those conducting them have duties under the Regulations for reporting serious defects - both to the user and to the relevant enforcing authority.

What is lifting equipment?

Lifting equipment is any work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes its attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. It includes any lifting accessories that attach the load to the equipment in addition to the equipment which carries out the actual lifting function. A ‘load’ includes ‘a person’ as well as the usual material, animals or combination of these that are lifted by the lifting equipment.

Are pallets, skips, ladles or similar considered to be lifting equipment?

Usually no. Where this equipment is used for carrying material loads and are not permanently attached to the lifting machinery it would normally be considered to be part of the load and a 'Thorough Examination' is not required. The equipment should be maintained and inspected to make sure it can be used safely including when it is being lifted.

What is a lifting accessory?

A lifting accessory is any equipment used to attach a load to the lifting equipment, which is not a permanent part of the load (eg hooks, ropes, chains, shackles and eyebolts) or lifting equipment.

Do I need an 'appointed person' for lifting operations?

Regulation 8 of LOLER requires employers to ensure that every lifting operation is:

The term 'appointed person' is often used to describe the person fulfilling the role of the competent person, who should have adequate practical and theoretical knowledge and expertise in planning the lifting operations being undertaken.

What requirements apply to the use of fork-lift trucks?

When any fork lift is used to lift or lower loads, employers and others who may be in control of the lifting operation must ensure that it is planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner. This doesn't mean a formal plan has to be prepared for every individual lifting operation but, where there is a significant change from standard practice, additional effort may be required to ensure lifting is carried out safely.

LOLER requires that the lifting chains, forks, hoist mechanism (ie mast and cylinders) and fork attachments are subject to a thorough examination , either at 12-month intervals or as specified in the written scheme of examination. In addition, as required by PUWER, lift trucks should be maintained at all times for safety, with other parts (eg brakes and lights) being inspected at regular intervals, including essential daily pre-use checks.

Can I use an excavator for lifting?

You can do this as long as:

  • lifting is permitted by the original manufacturer
  • the machine has dedicated lifting points (with safe working load markings)
  • it is used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions
  • has been subject to a thorough examination

Where the lifting capacity of the machine exceeds one tonne, it should be equipped with a rated capacity indicator and boom check valves.

When can I use a non-integrated platform or 'man-basket'?

A non-integrated platform or man-basket must only be used in exceptional circumstances (eg emergencies), and only in accordance with the guidance in: Working platforms (non-integrated) on fork-lift trucks.

Does LOLER apply to ships?

Sometimes yes. LOLER applies in respect of the health and safety of land-based workers (and others, eg the public, who may be affected by any lifting activity). It applies to the ship's crew only when they are working in a way which causes a risk to others. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been established between the Authorities to ensure enforcement is coordinated. The MOU summarises the application of LOLER to situations which commonly arise involving ship's lifting equipment. HSE has worked extensively with the Ports Industry and has jointly produced guidance which includes reference to lifting.

Sometimes yes. LOLER applies in respect of the health and safety of land-based workers (and others, eg the public, who may be affected by any lifting activity). It applies to the ship's crew only when they are working in a way which causes a risk to others. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been established between the Authorities to ensure enforcement is coordinated. The MOU summarises the application of LOLER to situations which commonly arise involving ship's lifting equipment. HSE has worked extensively with the Ports Industry and has jointly produced guidance which includes reference to lifting.

What is a LOLER thorough examination?

This is a complete and thorough check of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person and concluded with a written report. The report must include the date of the thorough examination and the date the next one is due. It should also specify any defects that are / are about to become a danger to people. Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must report this verbally to the dutyholder and then provide this information in a written report. A copy of the report must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority.

Should lifting warning devices be part of a 'Thorough Examination'?

Yes. Devices fitted to machines, such as cranes, which cut-out hoisting, derricking or trolleying motions, eg when the SWL is exceeded, should be regarded as part of the lifting equipment and be included in the thorough examination. This applies also to any radius/load indicator fitted to lifting equipment.

Who should carry out examinations of lifting equipment and accessories that are hired out?

Although a person using hired lifting equipment, eg a crane, always has a duty to comply with the requirements for thorough examination, it is usually the case that such examinations are, in fact, carried out by, or on behalf of, the plant hire firm. The responsibility in law, however, rests upon the user and they should, therefore, always satisfy themselves at the outset that there is a current report of thorough examination.

How often should lifting equipment be subject to thorough examination?

Thorough examination of lifting equipment must take place every 12 months - or every 6 months if the equipment is used to lift people. Any accessories used in lifting should also be inspected every 6 months. These are the minimum requirements, where there is no formal 'examination scheme' drawn up by a competent person.

The competent person may impose a more rigorous examination scheme, for example when the lifting equipment:

  • is used in extremes of temperature (eg in a foundry or a freezer)
  • is used in a potentially corrosive environment (eg seafront)
  • is subjected to particularly heavy use
  • could lead to potentially catastrophic consequences if it failed (eg resulting in multiple deaths or the release of dangerous material)

In some cases, the period between thorough examinations may be extended under an 'examination scheme', where either deterioration will be very slow (eg when lifting equipment is only very occasionally used and stored in dry, non-corrosive environments); or when it is one of a very large number of identical items - where a sampling and inspection scheme may be more appropriate.

In addition to these scheduled examinations, equipment will require a thorough examination following:

  • any accident or dangerous occurrence
  • any significant change in conditions of use
  • the replacement of any parts that are subject to thorough examination
  • any long periods of inaction

My lifting equipment is already serviced regularly. Is a thorough examination still required?

Yes. Thorough examination of lifting equipment must be carried out in all cases, taking place every 12 months; or every 6 months when used to lift people, or for any lifting accessory. The examination intervals may differ, where there is a written scheme drawn up by a competent person, which may specify other intervals that may be shorter or exceptionally longer.

If your service included the fitting of any new parts covered by LOLER then a thorough examination must also be carried out before use. Thorough examination may also be required following any:

  • accident or dangerous occurrence
  • significant change in conditions of use
  • long periods of inaction

Can the organisation servicing my equipment also carry out the thorough examination?

Yes. But the competent person undertaking the thorough examination should not be the same person who services / maintains the equipment, as they would be responsible for assessing their own work. A competent person should be sufficiently independent and impartial in order to make objective decisions. Although a competent person that undertakes thorough examinations is usually employed by a different company, they may be employed by the equipment user, provided they have sufficient independence to act impartially.

What equipment requires a thorough examination?

The term 'thorough examination' is used by a number of regulations concerned with equipment used at work, including:

  • lifting equipment (regulation 9 of LOLER)
  • power presses (regulation 32 of PUWER)
  • engineering controls, provided to prevent or control exposure to hazardous substances (regulation 9 of COSHH)
  • pressure systems

In all cases, the purpose of the examination is to verify that the equipment remains safe for continued use. However, it is not a substitute for servicing etc, which must still be undertaken to ensure that 'work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair' (PUWER regulation 5).

What are the requirements for the examination of lifts?

LOLER regulation 9(3) requires that all lifts used at work are thoroughly examined by a competent person at least every 6 months if used to carry people, and at 12-monthly intervals if only used for moving goods, or in accordance with an examination scheme. Thorough examination should also take place if substantial or significant changes are made to the lift, or following exceptional circumstances (such as damage to / failure of the lift or its parts). This is in addition to normal inspections as part of lift servicing and maintenance. Other lifts used by the public should also be subject to similarly stringent requirements to ensure the safety of all users, and so meet the objectives of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Who can undertake a thorough examination?

Thorough examinations must only be undertaken by a competent person - someone who is suitably competent to undertake such work. The term 'competent person' is used in law to distinguish from other people who may just undertake servicing, maintenance and associated inspections.

What is a 'competent person'?

A competent person is someone who has appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the equipment for which they act as 'competent person'. This knowledge and experience can help them detect defects/weaknesses and assess whether they will affect the continued safe use of the equipment.

The competent person must be sufficiently independent and impartial to make objective decisions. However, this should not be the same person who performs routine servicing / maintenance, as they would be responsible for assessing their own work.

A competent person may be employed by a separate company or selected by an employer from their own staff. They should have genuine competence, authority and independence to ensure examinations are properly carried out, so that any recommendations that arise can be made without fear or favour.

Does new lifting equipment have to be thoroughly examined before use?

You must have lifting equipment examined in the following circumstances:

  • Before using it for the first time - unless the equipment has a valid Declaration of Conformity which is less than one year old and the lifting equipment was not assembled on site / dependant on the conditions of installation. If it was assembled on site or depends for safety on the way it was installed, it must be examined by a competent person to confirm that the assembly was correct and safe.
  • After assembly, and before use at each location - for all lifting equipment that requires assembly or installation before use (eg tower crane) - to ensure it has been installed correctly and is safe for use.

Does lifting equipment need to be marked with a safe working load?

Yes. Machinery and accessories for lifting loads must be clearly marked to indicate their safe working loads (SWL). Where the SWL depends on the configuration of the machinery for lifting loads, the machinery must be marked to indicate its SWL for each configuration, or provided with such information which is kept with the machinery.

On chain and wire slings, the SWL should be marked legibly and indelibly on a durable tag or label attached to the sling; or marked on the ferrule or master link.

Where it may not be possible for the marking to show the SWL, there are other ways of 'indicating' the safe working criteria for the equipment. In some cases, a 'surrogate' marking may be acceptable, such as a capacity indicator on an excavator. However, colour coding alone to denote SWL is not normally acceptable, but can be a useful additional feature (eg of textile slings) and may be a key element in the marking of some equipment, such as access and rescue ropes.

Individual lifting accessories forming part of a specific item of lifting equipment (that is not disassembled after use and so remains part of that equipment), do not need to be marked.

However, the lifting equipment must be marked with a SWL rating that is suitable for all items in its assembly.

Further information is given in: Safe use of lifting equipment. ACOP and Guidance (see regulation 7 and paragraph 186 onwards).

What details must be on the thorough examination record?

The contents of a thorough examination report are specified by Schedule 1 of LOLER . There is no longer a defined format or form for such a report, provided that all 11 items listed in Schedule 1 are included.

Can the report of a thorough examination be kept electronically?

Yes, but security measures should be taken to ensure the report cannot be tampered with, and you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary, such as on request by the relevant enforcing authority.

Does LOLER apply to robots?

Providing that part of the robot’s primary purpose is to be a piece of lifting equipment, then robots would be subject to LOLER.

However, whether a robot would be subject to a thorough examination, as required by Regulation 9(3), would depend on whether failure of the robot would result in a dangerous situation.

A robot in a fully fenced cell which operates entirely independently without any human interaction is unlikely to require a thorough examination because the failure of the lifting equipment could not result in a dangerous situation.

"Cobots", or robots within a cell where there is a need for human interaction; for example, replacing pallets or loads, would be required to be subjected to a thorough examination.

This would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis and will not apply in all circumstances.

Even where the requirement for a thorough examination does not apply, the equipment would still need to be maintained in accordance with the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

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Updated: 2024-02-09