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The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) came into force on 5 December 1998 with the aim of reducing the risk of injury from lifting equipment used at work; They replaced a number of other pieces of legislation which previously covered the use of lifting equipment.

LOLER places duties on people and organisations that own, operate or have control over lifting equipment to ensure that it is safe to use and those who operate it have the right knowledge and experience so that they don’t create danger while handling it.

In most cases, lifting equipment is also work equipment and, consequently, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) will also apply and its requirements need to be met.

Areas covered within LOLER include the requirement for lifting equipment to be:

  • strong and stable enough for safe use (i.e. fit for purpose);
  • marked to indicate safe working loads;
  • positioned and installed so as to minimise risks;
  • used safely, ensuring that the work is planned, organised and performed by a competent person; and
  • subject to ongoing thorough examination (where appropriate) and inspected by a competent person.

In planning any lifting operation, the identification and assessment of risk is critical to ensuring the most appropriate equipment and method is selected for the job. 

Lifting operations range from the very simple and commonplace, where minimal on-the-job planning by trained competent people may be all that is needed to manage the risk, to very complex operations which require sophisticated and detailed planning/records, with very high levels of expert input, monitoring and supervision. 

The complexity of the plan and the extent of the resources used to manage the risk must reflect the complexity and difficulty of the lifting operation.

Lifting equipment must be thoroughly examined at the intervals laid down in an examination scheme drawn up by a competent person, and otherwise at least annually (or every six months if it is used to lift people). It also needs to be examined in a number of situations, including:

  • before it’s put into service for the first time (unless it’s new and is covered by an EC declaration of conformity which is less than 12 months old); and
  • after installation, where the safety of lifting equipment depends on installation conditions.

Records must be kept of all thorough examinations and any defects found must be reported to both the person responsible for the equipment and in certain circumstances the relevant enforcing authority.

All lifting equipment, including accessories, must be clearly marked to indicate their ’Safe working loads’ (SWL) – the maximum load the equipment can safely lift.

Where equipment is to be used to lift people it should be marked to indicate the number of people that can be lifted in addition to the SWL of the equipment.

Lifting equipment which is not designated for lifting people – but might be used this way in error – must be clearly marked to indicate it should not be used to lift people.