The 5 things you must know to keep your handling equipment safe, efficient and legal
Lifting operations often put operators and other employees at risk of injury, and accidents can be disastrous. Not ignoring the impact upon the individual, their friends, family and colleagues, these can be very costly in terms of lost time, sick pay, damage or loss of product, extra wages or overtime working, production delays, investigation time, fines and legal costs.
Keeping up to date and compliant with safety regulations is difficult but essential to ensure that accidents do not occur. However, if they do, businesses need to be able to prove that they complied with all their legal requirements.
We’ve created a five-point checklist to ensure that you understand what you need to know to keep yourself and your workforce safe, equipment operating efficiently and your business compliant with the law:
1. Ensure that you know LOLER inside out
Under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), all lifting equipment must be fit for purpose, clearly marked to indicate safe working loads, with records of maintenance and inspections carried out by a competent person. These inspections must incorporate:
- The date of examination
- The date when the next thorough inspection is due
- Any defects found (if none found it must state this)
A competent person, as defined in the LOLER Approved Code of Practice Guidance, is someone who has “appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment.”
The competent person must not be the same person who undertakes routine maintenance of the equipment because they would not be able to impartially assess their own maintenance work.
2. Become familiar with PUWER
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (1999 in Northern Ireland) deal with work equipment and machinery in workplaces and aim to ensure that all equipment is:
- maintained regularly to ensure safety
- inspected by competent operators
- suitable for its intended purpose
- only used by those with adequate training
In addition, PUWER also requires that all equipment and machinery is adapted or constructed to ensure that it can be used safely in whatever conditions or circumstances it will be operating.
PUWER regulations do not apply to suppliers of the equipment – it is very firmly the responsibility of the purchaser of the equipment who needs to comply. These regulations do not refer to equipment used by the public – this is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
3. Understand and comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 is the fundamental legislation covering health and safety in the workplace in the UK. The Health and Safety Executive is the UK body responsible for enforcing this legislation, along with local authorities.
The act places a duty on all employers “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of all employees. It applies to all work premises and activities and everyone, including the self-employed, has responsibilities under it.
The Act requires:
- Safe entry and exit to the workplace
- Safe use, maintenance and repair of the working machinery, systems and environment
- Safe handling and storage of dangerous substances
- Staff training to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy
- Adequate welfare provision for staff at work
- An up to date health and safety policy based on consultation with employees
4. Ensure that you comply with all the legislation above
Ensure that all existing, new and second-hand equipment is fit for purpose, maintained and inspected as required in the regulations above, with consistent, accurate record keeping of these inspections. Furthermore, ensure that staff are fully trained to be able to operate the machine safely and those that will carry out the maintenance and inspections are “competent persons”, a slightly ambiguous term defined above.
Although they may give prior warning, HSE inspectors do not have to give notice when visiting work premises. They can talk to employees, take samples and photographs, and impound dangerous equipment.
It is possible, in England and Wales, where most cases are heard by magistrates, for certain serious offences to result in fines of up to £20 000 and custodial sentences of 12 months. Those cases referred to the Crown Court may result in custodial sentences of up to two years with no limit on the fine that may be imposed.
5. Be aware of the “iceberg analogy”
It is all too easy to cut costs when it comes to buying handling equipment as well as when budgeting for maintenance, servicing and repairs. However, make your decision based on long term value, not cost alone. Saving money on maintenance in the short term is a false economy if more expensive breakdowns or accidents are the result.
Consider the iceberg analogy of the unseen costs of accidents at work. In addition to the direct costs of public liability insurance and other insurance costs to cover accidental injury and damage are those that lurk beneath the surface and only emerge when companies are faced with a serious accident. These costs include, amongst many others, lost time due to employee absence, training costs for replacement workers, loss of production, loss of orders and damaged reputation.
Peace of mind
Finding, reading and understanding all this legislation, let alone implementing it, is a daunting task, but we can help. As well as supplying equipment that complies with all current legislation, and offering advice, we can help give you peace of mind by creating a custom-built maintenance package tailor-made for your business and your budget.
As manufacturers of manual handling and lifting equipment for over 40 years, we can help you ensure that you are meeting all these needs by building you a maintenance program to fit your unique requirements and your budget. We know the regulations inside out and we will offer everything you need to keep everyone protected. We have many different options but the prevailing advantage is peace of mind.
Advanced Handling offer:
- A regular maintenance program suited to your needs and budget
- A flexible fast response
- Quick, successful repairs with many parts kept in stock
- Legal compliance in terms of both equipment and maintenance packages
For real peace of mind and packages from the manual handling and lifting experts, please contact our friendly team on 01775 345365 or email email@example.com for advice, options and prices.