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Lifting equipment and lifting operations

Understand how to make safe arrangements for the use of lifting equipment or to operate lifting equipment in a safe manner.


What lifting equipment is

'Work equipment' means any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not). 'Lifting equipment' is a subset of work equipment. Lifting equipment means work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. 'Lifting operation' means an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load.

The legal definitions of work equipment and lifting equipment can be found in the Provision and Use or Work Equipment 1998 Approved Code of Practice and the Lifting Operation and Lifting Equipment Regulations Approved Code of Practice 1998..

Managing lifting equipment

Departments must ensure that:

  • suitable lifting equipment is provided in the first instance

  • lifting equipment and lifting operations are subject to risk assessment

  • lifting equipment is subject to appropriate inspection and maintenance

  • lifting equipment users are trained in the use of that equipment, and

  • lifting equipment is subject to a thorough examination at an appropriate frequency

Ensuring equipment is suitable

Departments must provide suitable lifting equipment in the first instance. The provision of suitable lifting equipment (including purchases of new equipment and providing equipment from stocks held) must be informed by a risk assessment. An example risk assessment that departments can adopt or adapt can be found in the Lifting equipment and lifting operations standard.

Before purchasing an item of lifting equipment, departments must make sure the equipment is the subject of a 'declaration of conformity' and is CE marked. To harmonise standards, the EU has issued directives for essential health & safety requirements with which lifting equipment must comply. A declaration of conformity is a documented claim issued by the manufacturer or supplier that the lifting equipment is compliant with the essential requirements. The requirement for a declaration of conformity is not retrospective, but does apply to all new equipment.

Lifting equipment must be clearly marked with a ‘safe working load’ with markings for each configuration, if appropriate, and its suitability or not for the use of lifting persons. Lifting equipment accessories must be marked with safe working load and other characteristics necessary for safe operation.

A safe working load (SWL) is a value or set of values based on the strength and/or stability of the equipment when lifting. A range of safe working loads can be specified for the same equipment when used in different configurations. The SWL is usually expressed in terms of the maximum load that the equipment may safely lift, such as for cranes and lifting attachments, or the actual capacity of the equipment in the case of fork-lift trucks.

Requirements for inspection and maintenance

Departments must ensure that lifting equipment remains suitable for use. This must include suitable pre-use checks, periodic inspection and appropriate maintenance. This process should be informed by risk assessment.

If preventative maintenance is essential to maintain lifting equipment in a safe condition, a maintenance log must be kept.

If inspections are essential to maintain lifting equipment in a safe condition, an inspection log must be kept.

Lifting equipment operators

Departments must ensure that persons who use lifting equipment are competent to do so and that they receive appropriate information, instruction and training.

Departments must ensure that individual lifting operations are planned and supervised by a competent person.

Carrying out a thorough examination of lifting equipment

Lifting equipment must be subject to a thorough examination by a competent person at appropriate intervals. The 'examination scheme' means a suitable scheme drawn up by a competent person. A 'thorough examination' means a thorough examination by a competent person and, where appropriate, testing by a competent person as is appropriate.

Estates will collate an organisation-wide schedule of lifting equipment that requires a thorough examination. The details held in the schedule will documented so that items listed in the schedule can be clearly identified.

Estates will make annual checks with departments to ensure the schedule is current. Departments will check the schedule against the equipment that they hold and report additions and deletions to the schedule.

Departments must report additions and deletions to the schedule that occur between checks.

Reporting thorough examination results

The competent person appointed to perform the through examinations will report the results of the though examination to Campus Infrastructure.

If the thorough examination shows an item of lifting equipment to be in a dangerous state, the competent person will make an instant report to Campus Infrastructure. Campus Infrastructure will contact the Head of Department to report that the item must be withdrawn from service.

Campus Infrastructure will report the results of the thorough examinations to the departments which own or use the equipment.

You can download the current lifting equipment safety standard at the bottom of the page. The standard sets out the University's arrangements (including roles and responsibilities of Heads of Department, line managers, supervisors and employees) for safely managing lifting equipment and lifting operations.

Document control

Date of last review: This standard was last reviewed and agreed at UHSC in March 2022
Date of next review: The next scheduled review is March 2025


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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