Lifting operations on site: what you need to know

12th October 2017

BSG reports a 13% increase in the number of non-compliant lifting operations in the first six months of 2017

Any lifting equipment used at work – including employees’ own equipment – for lifting or lowering loads is subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).

LOLER covers a wide range of equipment, including: cranes; fork-lift trucks; lifts; hoists; mobile elevating work platforms; and vehicle inspection platform hoists.

The regulations also cover lifting accessories, such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. However, they do not extend to fixed anchor points that form part of a building or structure. And LOLER does not apply to escalators, which are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

Machinery and accessories for lifting loads must be clearly marked to indicate their safe working loads (SWL). Where the SWL depends on the configuration of the machinery for lifting loads, the machinery must be marked to indicate its SWL for each configuration, or provided with such information which is kept with the machinery.

On chain and wire slings, the SWL should be marked legibly and indelibly on a durable tag or label attached to the sling, or marked on the ferrule or master link.

Where it may not be possible for the marking to show the SWL, there are other ways of indicating the safe working criteria for the equipment. In some cases, a ‘surrogate’ marking may be acceptable, such as a capacity indicator on an excavator.

However, colour coding alone to denote SWL is not normally acceptable, but can be a useful additional feature (for example for textile slings) and may be a key element in the marking of some equipment, such as access and rescue ropes.

Individual lifting accessories forming part of a specific item of lifting equipment (that is not disassembled after use and so remains part of that equipment), do not need to be marked.

However, the lifting equipment must be marked with a SWL rating that is suitable for all items in its assembly. Further information is given in: Safe use of lifting equipment. ACOP and Guidance (see regulation 7 and paragraph 186 onwards).

Two South West-based companies were fined in June after a worker was struck by scaffolding. Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how employees of Carter Training Ltd were using a mobile crane on the building project in Queen Mothers Square, Poundbury, Dorchester, when the attachment holding 500 scaffolding fittings weighing 2kg each was turned on its side, emptying all contents onto workers and the concrete flooring 10.5 metres below.

The worker suffered two fractures to her left shoulder blade, a fracture to her left collar bone, a cut to her head and bruising.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the stillage attachment used on the crane was not suitable for lifting heavy and large amounts of scaffolding. Lifting the scaffolding directly above a number of contractors working below also put them at risk of harm.

It was also found that principal contractor Zero C Holdings failed to carry out an audit of all lifting plans and as a result failed to manage the risks associated with this lifting activity. Zero C Holdings did not have clear lines of communication between the lifting company Carter Training Ltd and contractors working on the site below.

Zero C Holdings Ltd of Armitage House, Poundbury, Dorchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £145,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500.

Carter Training (Services) Ltd of Budleigh Hill, East Budleigh, Devon has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 (1) Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and has been fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Nicole Buchanan said: “The worker is very lucky that her injuries were not life threatening. Both Zero C Holdings and Carter Training put a number of workers at risk of harm when they failed to plan or identify the risks of heavy lifting.

This case highlights the need for duty holders to properly plan all lifting operations before work is carried out to manage the risk of injury to workers. Lifting directly above workers is inherently unsafe and should be avoided wherever possible.”

Chris Chapman, technical support manager for the Building Safety Group, said: “The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 require all lifting operations to be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.

Any lifting equipment must be sufficiently strong, stable and suitable for the proposed use. Similarly, the load and anything attached (eg timber pallets, lifting points) must be suitable and positioned or installed to prevent the risk of injury from the equipment or the load falling and striking people.

It should be visibly marked with any appropriate information to be taken into account for its safe use, eg safe working loads. Accessories, for example slings and clamps, should be similarly marked.”

About BSG’s Non-Compliance Reporting Index (NCRI)

Non-compliance data is extracted from BSG’s ‘Non-compliance Reporting Index’ (NCRI). The index is used to support the only known real-time, reporting service which compiles high volume health & safety non-compliance data, collected for and on behalf of the construction industry through site inspections. More than 20,000 site inspections were conducted in 2016. Approximately 25,000 non-compliances were recorded in total.

This article has also been published in Construction Manager