Procurement 8 December 2016

How to protect your workforce when your business uses lifting equipment

Workers should receive training so they know not to overload lifting equipment

Companies that use lifting equipment need to make sure it’s safe for staff and meets health and safety regulations. Here, sales manager at Penny Hydraulics, a manufacturer of specialist lifting eqipment, Jessica Penny, takes a closer look at what business owners must consider.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height accounted for just over a quarter of injuries in workplaces between 2015 and 2016.

With falls being the most widespread cause of death in the workplace, it’s little wonder that there is such a heavy focus by health and safety regulators on reducing the risk for employees who regularly work at a height.

One of the best ways to minimise the risk to your workers is to provide them with lifting equipment that removes or reduces the chance of them suffering a fall.

The government recognises this in its Work at Height Regulations, 2005, which makes it lawful for employers to try and avoid work at height if at all possible, and if it’s not, to provide staff with the tools that they need to carry out work safely with low risk.

Two of the most common types of lifting equipment are those that can lift either a heavy load to a height, such as a hoist or a vehicle-mounted crane, and equipment that can elevate a person so that they can carry out essential tasks in safety, such as a scissor lift or an elevated work platform. Both play an important role in minimising the risk in potentially hazardous situations.

While it is important to ensure that as much work as possible is done from the ground, sometimes it’s unavoidable and lifting equipment must be used. The options you have on-site should be fit for purpose so that workers can get safely to and from where they need to be, while being strong and stable enough to provide a safe platform.

Workers should receive training so they know not to overload lifting equipment or overreach when working. You should also make sure that emergency evacuation and rescue procedures are in place.

Along with the overarching health and safety regulations that business owners need to abide by, there are also specific rules that must be followed for lifting equipment.

In an effort to make operation, maintenance, and inspection of this machinery as effective and efficient as possible, the HSE introduced the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) in 1998. Businesses are obliged to comply with this guidance if using lifting equipment for any work the company carries out.

The main aims of LOLER are to ensure all instances of work at a height involving a piece of equipment is thoroughly planned and supervised, and to provide rules for the proper maintenance and inspection of said machinery.

The regulations require a company to appoint a ‘competent person’, which the HSE defines as ‘someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly’.

This person is responsible for both overseeing of work and carrying out and recording ‘thorough examinations’ — a detailed inspection of machinery in line with the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (ACOP).

LOLER is enforced by health and safety inspectors, who have the right to request access to your firm’s examination and lifting operation reports at any time. It’s best to follow the ACOP to the letter at all times, which will protect both your employees from harm and your business from any legal repercussions should something go wrong.

While the requirements of LOLER can seem very detailed and, at times, intimidating, if you spend time and effort to really familiarise yourself with them and follow their best practice, you will be rewarded with a competent, well-planned, and proactive operation.

Jessica Penny is General Manager of Sales at Penny Hydraulics

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