Lifting operations on site: what you need to know

14 September 2017

Safety specialist the Building Safety Group (BSG), reports a 13% increase in the number of non-compliant lifting operations in the first six months of 2017. Here, the company explains what the regulations are and what you need to be doing to meet them.

Any lifting equipment used at work – including employees’ own equipment – for lifting or lowering loads is subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).

LOLER covers a wide range of equipment, including: cranes; fork-lift trucks; lifts; hoists; mobile elevating work platforms; and vehicle inspection platform hoists.

The regulations also cover lifting accessories, such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. However, they do not extend to fixed anchor points that form part of a building or structure. And LOLER does not apply to escalators, which are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

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 (for example for 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).