This post aims to help healthcare providers to gain a basic understanding of LOLER tests and requirements within the healthcare industry.
LOLER regulations (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Requirements, 1998) aim to ensure that all lifting equipment and lifting accessories in the workplace are used in a safe and appropriate manner.
The regulations state that all lifting equipment should have suitable strength and stability for its designed use. LOLER also states that the Safe Working Load (SWL) and maintenance dates must be clearly visible on the equipment and any faults are reported immediately.
LOLER is implemented to prevent the risk of injuries or fatalities which may occur from the use of lifting equipment within the workplace.
What equipment requires LOLER tests?
When deciding whether LOLER applies to you, you need to ask yourself two questions. Firstly, is it work equipment and secondly, is it lifting equipment.
Owning a piece of lifting equipment doesn’t automatically mean that it requires LOLER testing. The equipment has to be specified as ‘work equipment’ for LOLER to be applied.
“The equipment has to be defined as ‘work equipment’, which is defined in the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) as ‘any machinery appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether excusively or not)’. (HSIS4)
Any lifting equipment used by an employee in the workplace, including the healthcare industry, will be covered by LOLER. In the healthcare sector, the main exemptions where LOLER doesn’t apply are:
- If a member of the public purchases equipment for their own use at home.
- If equipment has been loaned by an employer or community provider for a member of the public to use only for themselves by family or unpaid carers.
LOLER will not be applied in these circumstances as they are not defined as ‘work equipment’. However, lifting equipment that has been loaned will still have to comply with the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 section 3 (to provide safe equipment and maintain it, so far as is reasonably practicable).
Lifting equipment is defined as equipment which lifts or lowers loads as a principle function. So any equipment in the healthcare sector that is primarily used to lift a person requires LOLER tests. A lot of equipment in the healthcare industry has the ability to lift a person as well as its normal operational functions i.e. beds, trolleys. This equipment does not require a LOLER test because its sole purpose isn’t lifting or lowering a person. However, if such equipment is used at work, the provisions of PUWER will still apply.
“Height adjustablility alone does not mean that LOLER applies to the equipment.” (HSIS4)
A ceiling or mobile hoist, however, is exclusively used to lift a person and support their weight. Therefore this equipment would require LOLER inspections. Here are some examples of lifting equipment which requires testing under LOLER.
- Mobile hoists
- Ceiling hoists
- Standing/raising aids
- Slings (lifting accessory)
- Bath hoists/lifts (Known as ‘floor mounted hoists’ which are used to lift and lower a person into their bath)
- Passenger lifts
- Stair lifts
Who’s responsibility is it to ensure LOLER is enforced in the workplace?
LOLER regulations impose a duty on owners of lifting equipment, business owners and employers to ensure that all lifting equipment is suitable and stable for its proposed use. This includes regular inspections and maintenance checks under LOLER & PUWER.
“These Regulations (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.” (HSIS4)
What does a LOLER test consist of?
A qualified person, who has enough practical and technical knowledge and experience of lifting equipment, is able to conduct a thorough LOLER test and decide the result. The trained examiner will have the ability to determine whether equipment is corroding or deteriorating. When conducting the test, the examiner will check the following:
- Name/address of the equipment location.
- The manufacturer, date of manufacture, serial number etc of the lifting equipment.
- Date of its last inspection and the date of its next inspection.
- The safe working load (SWL) of the equipment.
- Identify the date and type of examination the engineer is conducting (LOLER only/Full service) and when the next test is due.
- Identify and describe any faults with the equipment which have or will become a danger to users.
- Describe any repairs or alterations that are required to cure any fault which could be a danger to users if left unattended.
- Visual and functional checks.
- Name of examiner and business address.
- The name of the person signing or authenticating the examination.
- State whether the equipment is safe or unsafe to use.
A detailed version of LOLER test requirements can be found here.
How often does my lifting equipment require LOLER testing?
Before any lifting equipment is used for the first time you will need to guarantee, with physical evidence, that the equipment has had a thorough examination and is safe to use. If you are unable to obtain this information, the equipment should not be used before being tested.
Periodic examinations are required if the lifting equipment is exposed to conditions which can cause deterioration or result in fatal/serious injury. By LOLER regulations, the following intervals should be observed depending on the equipment and its purpose use.
Thorough LOLER tests should be conducted at least every 6 months on all lifting equipment and any accessories. It is advised that daily routine checks are carried out before any lifting equipment is used. Any faults or defects should be reported immediately and the equipment shouldn’t be used until a specialist has conducted a thorough inspection.
To find out more on LOLER examinations, click here.
To find out more about LOLER regulations in the workplace, click here.