This page gives advice on safe use of lifting equipment and other issues relating to lifting operations.

You will also find details of legal duties and obligations and links to further information.

Quick links:

What is lifting equipment?
Legal duties and obligations around lifting operations and equipment

Meeting legal requirements for lifting operations and equipment:

Meeting legal requirements
Planning of lifting operations
Supervision of lifting operations
Roads and road traffic
Power lines, sewers and drains
Inspection of equipment
Hired lifting equipment
Further information on lifting operations and equipment

What is lifting equipment?

Lifting equipment is defined as any equipment whose principal purpose is to lift or lower loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it.

The regulations for lifting equipment cover many situations including:

Hydraulic lift tables, platform lifts (BS EN 1570),cranes, fork-lift trucks, passenger lifts, jacks, axle stands, mobile elevating platforms, vehicle inspection platforms, patient lifting hoists, dumb waiters in hotels or restaurants, vehicle tail lifts, ropes and pulleys used to raise materials on building sites, etc.
all lifting accessories such as chains, ropes, slings, shackles, eyebolts, harnesses, etc.
In addition to the requirements of these regulations, lifting equipment used at work is also subject to the general requirements of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).

Legal duties and obligations around lifting operations and equipment

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998
These Regulations were introduced in order to control and minimise the risks posed by lifting equipment and related operations to employees and others including members of the public, contractors, other users of the premises, sites, etc.

The Regulations replaced many other pieces of Health and Safety legislation, although the general requirement for businesses to risk assess the work still remains in place.

The law requires that any lifting equipment for use at work is:

suitable, strong and stable enough for the particular use and marked to indicate safe working loads (accessories or attachments such as slings, ropes and eyebolts are included in this)
positioned and installed to minimise any risks (e.g. from the equipment or the load falling or striking people)
used safely, i.e. the work is planned, organised and performed by competent people
marked with the safe working load, and if it is used for carrying people with the maximum number that can be carried (forklift arms or pallets on them should never be used to lift people)
subject to initial and ongoing 'Thorough Examination', (usually detailed within a written Scheme of Examination drawn up by a competent person) and where appropriate, regular inspection by competent people.
To view the full text of the above legislation online, please follow the links under Legislation.

Meeting legal requirements for lifting operations and equipment

Based on the findings of your risk assessments, safe systems of work should be developed and used for all lifting operations.

The risk assessment should take into account the working environment, geographical location, local site conditions, etc. where the equipment is to be used.

Read more about Risk Assessment

Planning of lifting operations

All lifting operations should be planned and carried out by a competent person, (someone with sufficient knowledge, experience and training), to ensure that they are carried out safely.

The plan must address all of the risks identified, the resources required, and the procedures and responsibilities involved.

Routine activities, such as loading vehicles with a fork lift truck, may only need an initial plan that can then be reviewed periodically to make sure the plan is still appropriate. Routine activities should ideally be reviewed every six months.

More complicated lifting operations may require a new plan every time they are carried out, especially if they are to be conducted at different sites.

Supervision of lifting operations

A competent person should provide proper supervision of all lifting operations. They need to have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to ensure the operation is carried out safely.

Whenever practicable, loads should never be lifted over an area that is occupied. Where this is not possible, safe systems of work must be put in place to minimise the risks to anyone below the load.

Roads and road traffic

Hazards associated with public roads and road traffic must be considered as part of any plans for lifting operations and you may need to liaise with the other contractors or clients before the work, to make sure that any hazards are managed.

Road traffic plans or arrangements for road closure should be included in the lifting plan where appropriate.

Power lines, sewers and drains

Risks from overhead power lines must also be considered and the siting of lifting equipment on or near drains and sewers can introduce additional hazards where there may be risk of collapse.

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Inspection of equipment

Thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment are important parts of the lifting regulations.

Inspections should be carried out by a competent person with experience of the equipment, who is usually independent, and is often an employee of an insurer. However, anyone who is sufficiently knowledgeable and trained for the purpose can carry out these duties.

The risks associated with failure of the equipment will relate to how thorough the examination needs to be. The competent person who draws up the inspection schedule usually recommends how often it should be carried out.

Equipment should receive an initial thorough examination, which is usually carried out by the manufacturer or supplier prior to supply.

Subsequent thorough examinations should be carried out annually, except for equipment used to lift persons, which must be examined every six months.

In addition, it is important that the person receiving inspection and maintenance reports from lift inspectors understands their contents and importance and that a clear procedure is in place to take equipment out of use immediately if this is required.

Hired lifting equipment

Some small businesses will only hire lifting equipment for short periods or for specific jobs.

If you do this, it is vital that you check inspection records for the equipment and that the hire company gives you sufficient information and training to make sure the equipment will be used safely.

The competence of any operators that you hire to use the equipment must also be checked.


It is important to keep original documentation for all lifting equipment, and all subsequent inspection reports and maintenance records as safety inspectors can ask to see these.

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