The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) are set of regulations created under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which came into force in Great Britain on 5 December 1998 and replaced a number of other pieces of legislation which previously covered the use of lifting equipment. The purpose of the regulations was to reduce the risk of injury from lifting equipment used at work. Areas covered in the regulations include the requirement for lifting equipment to be strong and stable enough for safe use and to be marked to indicate safe working loads; ensuring that any equipment is positioned and installed so as to minimise risks; that the equipment is used safely ensuring that work is planned, organised and performed by a competent person; that equipment is subject to ongoing thorough examination and where appropriate, inspection by competent people.
The regulations define lifting equipment as “work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes its attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it". The regulations involve anything which involves the lifting of goods or people at work. Equipment covered would include lifts, cranes, ropes, slings, hooks, shackles, eyebolts, rope and pulley systems and forklift trucks. The regulations apply to all workplaces and all the provisions of the 'Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998' also apply to lifting equipment.
Safe working load
A safe working load (SWL) should, according to the regulations be marked onto lifting equipment with the relevant SWL being dependent on the configuration of the equipment, accessories for lifting such as eye bolts, lifting magnets and lifting beams should also be marked. The load itself would be based on the maximum load that the equipment can lift safely. Lifting equipment that is designed for lifting people must also be appropriately and clearly marked.
The regulations stated that all lifts provided for use with work activities should be thoroughly examined by a 'competent person' at regular intervals. Regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations requires all employers to have their equipment thoroughly examined prior to it being put into service and after there has been any major alteration that could affect its operation. Owners or people responsible for the safe operation of a lift at work are known as 'dutyholders' and have a responsibility to ensure that the lift has been thoroughly examined and is safe to use. Lifts when in use should be thoroughly examined every six months if, at any time, the lift has been used to carry people. Lifts used to only carry loads should be examined every 12 months. Any substantial or significant changes should have been made to the equipment then this would also require an examination as would any change in operating condition which is likely to affect the integrity of the equipment.