5 point checklist – how to keep your handling equipment safe, efficient & legal
Incorrect lifting and handling in the workplace dramatically increase the risk of injury and accidents which can be disastrous for all involved.
Not ignoring the impact upon the individual, their friends, family and colleagues, these can be very costly for businesses too in many ways including…
- Loss of time.
- Sick pay.
- Damage to goods and products.
- Additional wages to cover temporary staff.
- Production delays.
- Legal costs and any fines associated with the accident where the company were at fault.
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 help 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 the 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 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 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 approximately 6 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 it results in more expensive breakdowns or accidents in the long run.
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, among 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 you gain peace of mind.
Advanced Handling has been designing and manufacturing lifting and handling equipment for over 40 years. We ensure that everything that leaves our factory is compliant with the above regulations. To help you remain compliant post-purchase, we offer flexible service and maintenance packages UK-wide which can be tailor-made for your equipment, budget and business needs.
Didn’t purchase through Advanced Handling?
We also offer our service and maintenance packages for lifting and handling equipment that wasn’t purchased through Advanced Handling as we know how important it is to ensure that your handling equipment is maintained on a regular basis for it to continue to be a safe and effective investment.
Advanced Handling offer:
- A regular maintenance program suited to your needs and budget.
- A flexible and fast response to minimise downtime.
- Quick, successful repairs with many parts kept in stock.
- Legal compliance in terms of both equipment and maintenance packages.