To prevent accidents in the Health Care sector, lifting equipment should be properly maintained and operated by trained individuals. There are two sets of regulations that apply to the use of work equipment, these are the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). LOLER 1998 is more concerned with equipment being able to lift properly with minimal risk, whereas PUWER is about the general suitability of the equipment and its use by trained staff.
LOLER 1998 is a set of regulations which were created under the Health and Safety Act 1974. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce the risk of injury from using lifting equipment at work. The regulations say that the equipment should be strong enough for use, and, that it should be marked to indicate safe working loads. Other areas in the regulations include installing the equipment in such a way that it is positioned to minimize risk, that it is organized and operated by a competent person and that it is regularly inspected and maintained as appropriate. LOLER 1998 does not apply to all equipment used to lift a load, equipment must be defined as “work equipment”. This equipment is defined in the regulations as “work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes its attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it”. Basically, any equipment used by an employee at work will come under this definition. Examples of instances where LOLER 1998 would not apply can include a member of the public purchasing equipment for home use or where equipment has been loaned by an employer to someone for personal use. However, in the latter case, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 would apply, i.e to provide safe equipment and maintain it, as is practically possible.
If LOLER 1998 applies, examination of the equipment is necessary during its lifespan. After the initial installation, the equipment would need to be checked to ensure it is in working order. If lifting equipment is used regularly, and, exposed to conditions that might cause deterioration, in this case the equipment would need to be inspected regularly to prevent serious or fatal injuries. According to the regulations, this type of equipment would have to be checked every 6 months or less. For equipment not involving people, it should be checked yearly. The competent person checking the equipment must have theoretical and practical knowledge of the equipment. They must be able to detect defects or weaknesses. Regulation 9 of LOLER 1998 outlines specific requirements for the formal inspection of lifting equipment. The findings must be recorded and inspections made in line with the requirements of schedule 1 of LOLER 1998. Outside of routine examinations, equipment may need to be maintained, this includes replacing worn or damaged parts, lubrication and making routine adjustments.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) places duties on employers and equipment owners to ensure that the equipment is right for the job. Under these regulations, the equipment should also be maintained in a safe condition, inspected so that it is installed correctly and used by trained personnel only. The equipment should also have suitable health and safety measures, i.e emergency stop controls, clearly visible markings and warning devices. It should clearly state the safe working load.
As well as the two regulations outlined above, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 are applicable as well.