This is a top level overview of the most common Health & Safety regulations and how they relate to workplace and equipment safety.
Although the actual legislation does not tend to go into detail about what a safety inspection should look like or the specifics of a checklist, the law is very clear on the duty of care an employer has around providing equipment which is operationally safe. Supporting guidance from the HSE gives practical, best practice ways of implementing the top level legislation i.e. a pre-use safety inspection is one way to pro-actively monitor the safe working order of potentially hazardous equipment.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational Health and Safety in Great Britain. It’s sometimes referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA.
HSWA will cover all workplace equipment, setting out the general duties which:
Regulation 2 clearly places a clear duty of care on employers for employee safety including the requirement for safe plant and systems of work.
Regulation 2 - General duties of employers to their employees
(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular
(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health
PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (1999 in Northern Ireland). These regulations will cover all equipment and machinery used every day in workplaces.
Put simply, the PUWER Regulations aim to make working life safer for everyone using and coming into contact with machinery and equipment, by ensuring that all equipment is:
Regulation 5 - Maintenance
Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
70 It is important that equipment is maintained so that its performance does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts peoples lives at risk. In regulation 5, ‘efficient’ relates to how the condition of the equipment might affect health and safety.
71 Equipment may need to be checked frequently to ensure that safety-related features are functioning correctly.
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, which are often abbreviated to LOLER, LOLER Regulations or LOLER 1998, place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. In most cases, lifting equipment will also be covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
The LOLER regulations require that all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. It also requires that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task and suitably marked, with suitable maintenance recorded and defects reported.
Regulation 9 - Thorough examination and inspection
(3)(b) Every employer shall ensure that lifting equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is thoroughly examined and if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations, to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.
The LOLER regulations cover any equipment used at work. However, some work equipment is not considered lifting equipment and so is not subject to LOLER’s specific provisions. However, when used at work, the provisions of PUWER still apply to all equipment (including selection, inspection, maintenance, and training). Some examples of work equipment which does not come under LOLER but still comes under the provisions of PUWER include escalators, stair lifts and platform lifts for the use of customers within a workplace.
However, it’s important to remember that under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAW) employers and the self-employed also have responsibilities, so far as reasonably practicable, for the safety of people they do not employ that may be affected by the employer’s work and therefore businesses allowing the public to use lifting equipment, should still be managing the risks from this equipment – and will generally need to be to the same stringent standards as required by LOLER and PUWER
Also known as ‘Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use, Approved Code of Practice and guidance’, this HSE guide is an invaluable resource outlining the main legal requirements for lift truck operations. It highlights the relevant parts of key legislation, from the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
Using simple language, it sets requirements for the training of lift truck operators and those responsible for managing and supervising lift truck operations. It also includes best practice advice on the trucks themselves – including maintenance and Thorough Examination
Maintenance, inspection and thorough examination of lift trucks
At the beginning of each shift, the operator should check the lift truck in accordance with the vehicle handbook and document the results. They should report to the supervisor any defects which might affect its safe operation to ensure they are put right.
Although this is the main guidance there are addition regulations and guidance for specific classes of equipment which reference the need for pre-use safety checks:
Safe use of ladders and stepladders INDG402
19 Establish the ladder or stepladder is in safe condition before using it. They should have a pre-use check each working day
The Work at Height Regulations 2005
(3) Every employer shall ensure that work equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is inspected—
(a) at suitable intervals; and
(b) each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the work equipment have occurred,
to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.
HSE HSG76 Guide to Warehousing & Storage
642 To ensure that a racking installation continues to be serviceable and safe, the storage equipment should be inspected on a regular basis. The frequency of
inspections depends on a variety of factors that are particular to the site concerned and should be determined by a nominated ‘person responsible for racking safety’ (PRRS) to suit the operating conditions of the warehouse. This will take into account the frequency and method of operation together with the dimensions of the warehouse, the equipment used and personnel involved, all of which could damage the structure. The inspection follows a hierarchical approach using several levels of inspection.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/2306/contents/made
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/loler.htm
HSE Warehousing and storage www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg76.pdf
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/735/contents/made
Safe use of ladders and stepladders INDG402 www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg455.htm
HSE Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l117.htm
Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/contents