Van and MEWP

Tree Surgeons and LOLER

Health & Safety

21st December 2020 | Info

What is LOLER?

LOLER is shorthand for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.

  • Lifting Operations – the lifting or lowering of a ‘load.’ This includes singular items/a single person or multiple items/people.
  • Lifting Equipment – the equipment used to lift and lower loads, including accessories.

E.g., Lifting equipment:

  • Overhead cranes and their supporting runways
  • Motor vehicle lifts
  • Vehicle tail lifts and cranes fitted to vehicles

E.g., Lifting accessories:

  • Fibre or Rope slings
  • Chains
  • Hooks
  • Spreader Beams

Some pieces of equipment, such as pallet trucks, fall arrest ropes, and tipper trucks are not covered by LOLER.

LOLER includes: selecting the correct lifting equipment; the marking of lifting equipment; the planning, organising and carrying out of lifting operations; and thorough examination of lifting equipment.

As tree surgeons, we undertake lifting operations, and it is the responsibility of an employer/health and safety manager to manage and control the risks involved in order to avoid injury or damage. In the Arboriculture industry, we must inspect and certify our kits every six months, and our rigging kits every 12 months.

When we undergo lifting operations involving lifting equipment, your manager must ensure to:

  • Plan them properly
  • Involve those who are sufficiently competent
  • Supervise those involved appropriately
  • Conduct and carry out these activities in a safe manner

Legislations that Apply

LOLER is supported by the ‘Safe use of lifting equipment: Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)’ which, whilst it is not law, is included under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act) and aids other regulations such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations).

Additionally, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations also supports LOLER when safety harnesses are used for rope access work.

Choosing the Appropriate Equipment

Under LOLER (and PUWER), all lifting equipment must be of sufficient strength, stability and suitable for the practice of work.

Lifting equipment should also be installed or positioned so that the risk of equipment or loads striking a person, or loads falling freely, are reduced.

Additionally, when lifting people, there are further regulations that need to be implemented covering: design and manufacture; use and maintenance; inspection; and thorough examination.

  • Design – Most lifting equipment used at work falls under the Machinery Directive (Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008) meaning that the equipment is safe when first entering the market or first used. This ensures that equipment has been designed and manufactured to meet specific H&S requirements. Lifting equipment requires a Declaration of Conformity which indicates that it meets industry-accepted quality and safety standards. Markings must be included on the equipment and within its instructions to identify that the lifting machinery is intended to lift people.
  • Use – There is specially designed equipment for lifting people which allows them to work safely at height. Your designated inspectors/health and safety managers must ensure always that the correct equipment for each task is selected and adequately planned through a risk assessment (along with the inclusion of other LOLER and ACOP regulations). It is important that everyone involved in these processes receives suitable training and are under supervision always. Only under exceptional circumstances (e.g., rescue) should you use lifting equipment that isn’t designed for lifting people. In these limited circumstances, additional safety precautions will need to be taken.
  • Examination – Equipment (whether it involves lifting people or not, must be examined thoroughly every six months. Regular pre-checks and inspections should also be undertaken to ensure safety.

Marking of Lift Equipment

It is important that all lifting equipment is marked to indicate the ‘safe working load.’

  • Safe working load (SWL) – the maximum weight/load that the equipment can lift safely.

The safe working load of lifting equipment will depend on its configuration and all SWLs of potential configurations must be marked (i.e., if the equipment can change positions).

Lifting equipment that is used to carry people should always have its SWL marked, including the number of people that can be lifted in conjunction with the SWL of the equipment. Any lifting equipment that is not safe to lift people must also be marked in a way to indicate that.

Additionally, lifting accessories should also be marked to indicate any features that may affect their safe use – this can include their individual weights where the weight is important.

Planning, organising and conducting lifting operations

It is imperative that when any LOLER activities are conducted, thorough planning and organisation takes place.

Risk Assessments should be made and include the correct equipment and method for the work being carried out. Lifting operations can range from simple exercises to complex processes, but both require some form of planning.

Simple tasks can have more of an ‘on-the-job’ approach to planning and can be carried out on the spot by those who are aware of the risks involved.

More complex jobs will require more in-depth, detailed plans and risk assessments, and must be carried out by those who are specially trained. (The general rule of thumb is that the more complex a job, the more planning is required and the more detailed your risk assessment needs to be).

Examining your equipment

Under LOLER regulations, detailed examinations of lifting equipment are to be carried out consistently by someone who has sufficient knowledge and experience of lifting equipment and includes the completion of regular written reports.

An examination schedule should follow:

  • Examination every six months for all lifting equipment and accessories involved in lifting people
  • Examination every six months for lifting all accessories
  • Examination every twelve months for other lifting equipment

These checks include examination before the first use of the equipment (unless its Declaration of Conformity was made less than 12 months earlier), if it is installed or assembled on another site or if it has been exposed to damaging conditions that may lead to deterioration.

It is essential to record these examinations, and in the instance that any faults are identified, you, or whoever may conduct these checks, must inform those using the lifting equipment, those who the equipment has been hired/leased from and the relevant authorities. (Local authorities are to be contacted by any workplace excluding industrial workplaces who are to contact HSE).

Are there any exceptions?

LOLER only applies to lifting equipment that is used at work except for equipment that transports people or goods between levels. However, PUWER does still apply for this equipment.

Any equipment that is installed in places where there is public access is subject to the HSW Act and is under legal obligation to be tested thoroughly using LOLER and PUWER as guides.


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