Thursday, November 17, 2016
This blog advises newcomers to the industry on LOLER and PUWER, whilst urging more experienced stakeholders to better promote best practice.
First, what are those frequently referenced regulations?
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. This includes all businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment, whether owned by them or not.
Under LOLER, all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.
Importantly, as lifting equipment is also work equipment, LOLER and PUWER both commonly apply (including in inspection and maintenance). To observe them in this niche, specialised industry, it’s important that they are kept separate and respected each in their own right.
One can visit the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website to get further detail on each but another key point is that LOLER requires equipment used for lifting to be fit for purpose, appropriate for the task, suitably marked and, in many cases, subject to statutory periodic thorough examination.
Failure to comply can not only result in accidents, but hefty fines. One recent case saw a £90,000 fine handed to a company that failed to comply with the requirements of LOLER. The HSE case was based on the company’s failure to subject its lifting equipment to thorough examination by a competent person.
As a rigging equipment supplier, LOLER is part of our company’s DNA. However, we also recognise the importance of PUWER, which isn’t the case at every company based on our experiences in the field.
I’d go so far as to say that where LOLER is well understood in the lifting sector, PUWER is not taken as seriously. This isn’t good enough and I’d urge all businesses to revisit the regulations and remind themselves that both balls—LOLER and PUWER—are in play.
I’ll take just a few requirements of PUWER to emphasise the point. It says equipment provided for use at work is suitable for the intended use; safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate; used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training; and accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls.
Do you see why these regulations are not to be treated lightly in the lifting industry?
Next week, Alan Varney, manager of our Bridgend facility, and I will visit the LiftEx trade show in Aberdeen, organised by the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), which carries a trademark, ‘Lifting Standards Worldwide’. Thus, it’s opportune to reference the work the association does in upholding safety. In fact, one of the benefits to end users of working with a LEEA member is that the supplier must adhere strictly to such regulations to be accredited with membership.
It’s worth noting that LEEA provides course content on LOLER and PUWER that we conduct here at Rope and Sling Specialists. LEEA membership also allows a company to buy key publications at preferential prices, including its own Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Lifting Equipment (COPSULE). This is recognised as an authoritative guide for the specification, use and maintenance of lifting equipment and is recommended by the HSE.
It’s unbelievable therefore that while the UK is a safe, mature marketplace, we still see non-compliance to the guidelines and regulations, in addition to a lack of common sense. These incidents must be reported as we have a duty of care for the safety of ourselves, colleagues, customers, the public and anyone else impacted by our work.
Companies should also have near-miss procedures whereby personnel don’t say, “Phew, that was close!” but instead document the experience so they can learn from it. Next time, the falling load might not miss.
Effective and thorough training is at the heart of continued improvement of best practice. Some companies believe personnel are competent after a day of training, but that’s not enough. As long as corners are cut in training, we will continue to observe riggers and appointed persons not following method statements, poorly assessing risk, using web slings when chain slings would be more appropriate, and so on.
Toolbox talks, proper supervision, processes and procedures, audits and more can all go towards continued improvement. Sometimes it’s as much about reinforcing a message or reminding industry of the hazardous nature of our work. We frequently take time to remind our riggers and appointed persons to check what is above, below and around their areas of work.
Sometimes it’s not about addressing shortcomings as much as it is accepting that human beings require repeated references to certain hazards to ensure they go home to their families at night.
See you at LiftEx!
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd