When it comes to using lifting equipment in the workplace, being able to do so safely is important. This is because any failure in the equipment could result in serious injuries or even death. To ensure that equipment is safe to use, those who provide, control or operate it have to follow the rules which health and safety law places on them.
Lifting Equipment Safety
To make sure that lifting equipment is safe to use, there is a need to have processes in place that involve checking and taking care of it on a regular basis. Ensuring that the equipment is safe to use can mean:
- Those using the equipment carry out a set of simple checks before they operate it.
- There should be a regular inspection and check of the lifting equipment. These will often take place every week however they might also take place every month or every quarter.
In addition to regular checking by users, employers also have a role to play in equipment safety. Employers have to make sure that lifting equipment is thoroughly examined either once or twice a year. The aim is to prove that it is still safe to use.
Who Can Test Lifting Equipment?
When it comes to the thorough examination of lifting equipment, the regulations do not spell out who should carry out the tests. It is the Health and Safety Executive’s LOLER
Approved Code of Practice and guidance that provides this information. The guidance states the testing of lifting equipment needs to be done by someone who is a ‘Competent Person’.
The guidance defines a competent person as someone who has not just the experience of the lifting equipment they examine; they also have the appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge as well.
If they have this, then they should be able to thoroughly test the lifting equipment for any problems and say whether the equipment is still safe to continue using.
The guidance does not say whether the competent person who does the examination should come from another company or whether they might be someone in-house. What it does say is that those inspecting the equipment must be both independent and impartial.
They have to be able to do the checking without fear or favour. The person cannot be someone who regularly maintains the lifting equipment. If they were, then they would in effect be checking their own work which would mean they cannot be independent or impartial.
When it comes to carrying out the thorough examination, what is required depends on the judgement of the competent person. That said there are accepted industry standards that provide a set of procedures and criteria that can be used to verify whether the equipment is still safe to use. Any thorough examination also involves reporting on the inspection. This means describing the testing done, any defects found and the action that is taken to fix them.
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