Lifting operations are commonly used in the construction industry and other workplaces to move equipment, materials and people around. However, if not carried out correctly, they can be very dangerous and lead to serious damage, injuries and fatalities.
In this article, we will look at some of the key things to consider when completing a LOLER risk assessment. For more information on the LOLER regulations, click here to view our LOLER FAQs article.
Before looking at LOLER risk assessments, it is important to fully understand all of the regulations that affect lifting operations.
There are several regulations that work alongside the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) to protect the health and safety of those carrying out lifting operations:
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 apply to all equipment used at work, including lifting equipment, and are the regulations on which LOLER is built. They require that all work equipment, including that used for lifting operations, is fit for purpose, selected with consideration of the working conditions, and used only for the operations for which it is suitable.
More information on the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations can be found in our Work Equipment training course.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 applies to all work activities, including lifting operations, and requires employers to complete risk assessments in order to identify the hazards present in the workplace. They also require employers to put control measures in place to reduce the risk that any identified hazards pose.
The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 require all new machinery to be designed and constructed to be safe, have an appropriate conformity marking (such as a UKCA or CE mark), be supplied with comprehensive instructions in English and be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require employers to carry out risk assessments for all work activities, including lifting operations.
These risk assessments should:
We will look at some key things to consider when specifically assessing a lifting operation. For more information on completing risk assessments, consider taking our risk assessment training course.
When identifying the hazards associated with lifting operations, it is important to:
For lifting operations, it is important to consider who may be at risk, including those who are not directly involved in the lift. Some key groups to consider are:
Lifting operations often pose a high risk to other employees, site visitors and members of the public because they will not have received sufficient training, instructions, or warnings to make them aware of the dangers present. When carrying out lifting operations in close proximity to these groups, it is especially important to make sure lifting areas are well supervised, protected, and segregated.
Equipment failure during a lifting operation can have serious consequences, including property damage and harm to people, so it is essential that suitable equipment is used every time.
For this reason, Regulation 9 of LOLER makes it a legal requirement for any equipment used for a lifting operation to be thoroughly examined and regularly inspected. For more information on this, click here to view the HSE’s ‘Safe use of lifting equipment’ ACOP.
Also, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations require employers to select lifting equipment that is suitable for the purpose for which it will be used, and LOLER takes this further by requiring them to consider a number of additional points, many of which will be explored below.
LOLER requires all lifting equipment and accessories to be marked with their safe working load (SWL), which is the maximum weight that they can safely lift. Be aware that this can change depending on the location and position of a load.
Sometimes, an item's safe working load may need to be reduced to below its actual limit for safety reasons. This is known as derating.
Derating is done for several reasons, including when working in a high-risk area such as near a live railway line, or when the load includes people. Any derating must be done by a competent person and, when completed, the new rating must be clearly displayed on the equipment.
In addition to its safe working load, lifting equipment must be marked with several other pieces of information:
Any lifting equipment and accessories must be strong and stable enough to carry a load without toppling over or breaking under pressure. To ensure this, the weight of a load must not exceed that of the lowest safe working load of a system.
For example, if a hook with a safe working load of 2 tonnes is used to attach a load to a crane with a safe working load of 5 tonnes, the safe working load for that operation is 2 tonnes.
Be aware that the weight of a load includes any accessories that are used, such as hooks, containers and strapping.
Also, the impact of environmental effects, such as strong winds and heavy rain, on the strength and stability of a piece of equipment should be considered.
When selecting, positioning and installing lifting equipment, factors that can cause destabilisation/loss of stability must be considered:
The working environment can present a number of risks to the safety of a lifting operation and these potential risks must be taken into account when selecting lifting equipment:
When deciding on which lifting equipment to use, it is important to think about who will be operating and working on it.
Operators must be protected from any risks that they may experience in the operating position itself. For example, an operator cab should feature suitable ventilation if it is intended for use in an area that contains harmful dusts or fumes. It is also important to consider the ergonomic design of the operating position, and whether it can be adjusted to suit different operators.
When selecting equipment people are required to work on, consideration must be given as to whether it features measures to minimise the risk of slips, trips and falls. These may include rails to prevent people and objects from falling off and anti-slip flooring. It should also be safely accessible and able to support the weight of the workers and their equipment.
For more information on LOLER and lifting operations, consider taking our great value online LOLER training course: