Who is responsible for safety?13 January 2023
Ben Dobbs, head of technical services at the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association, runs through the roles and responsibilities for ensuring the continued safety of in-service lifting equipment.
Safe practice in lifting will rely on many staff conforming to their responsibilities, so it is always worth reminding ourselves of these roles and their responsibilities.
THE DUTY HOLDER
Responsible for the lifting equipment within their plant or site, the duty holder is usually an employer or self-employed person, building owner, the person in charge of the equipment or a hire company. They must comply with LOLER 1998 and PUWER 1998.
If they do not possess the necessary skills or knowledge, they may delegate to qualified personnel or organisations. This does not absolve them of responsibility; it simply changes the nature of their accountability.
The duty holder must ensure that employees undertaking the tasks are assessed, suitably qualified, experienced, properly trained and provided with the necessary equipment for their role – in short, competent for their task.
As for external organisations, the duty holder must have procedures for vetting their competency. This can be achieved by making enquiries about the competence of the contractor (including their staff and subcontractors). It can also be attained by ensuring contractors have the right combination of skills, experience and knowledge. Similarly, the level of enquiries made should be determined by the level of risk and the complexity of the job.
Responsible for selecting equipment that is best-suited to the intended application, procurement personnel will have a full understanding of the equipment, the environmental conditions of use, the required duty and the applicable legislation and relevant standards. They will also be aware of changes, such as for remote control systems for cranes and hoists. It is also important to consider who will use the equipment and if any additional training is required, according to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
They must be able to order equipment accurately and the equipment must be fit for purpose in terms of minimum performance requirements, environment of use and frequency of use. It should reference the correct product standard and have the correct supporting documentation. If in doubt, procurement personnel must know whom to contact for relevant advice – and not just the salesman. Equipment should be selected by suitability and not just the price.
Under Regulation 10 of PUWER, those responsible for taking on new equipment must ensure it meets all applicable essential health and safety requirements. This means ensuring that the correct paperwork is received and the equipment is marked with information required by the appropriate standards and legislation. This includes the year of manufacture.
LIFTING EQUIPMENT EXAMINER
They must be deemed as competent by their employer or have supporting evidence if self-employed. They must show practical and theoretical knowledge as well as experience of the lifting equipment that is to be thoroughly examined. This will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses.
They are responsible for ensuring that defects are properly reported to the duty holder with recommendations as to the corrective actions. The duty holder is responsible for ensuring appropriate action is taken to remedy the defect as instructed by the lifting equipment examiner. The examiner is also required to investigate the cause of the problem and implement corrective measures to prevent reoccurrence.
They are responsible for interim inspections between thorough examinations, as determined by the risk assessment, which must take into account factors such as the manufacturer’s details, what the equipment is to be used for and the environmental conditions of use. This will enable the identification of critical components and assemblies to be inspected and the intervals between their inspections.
Inspectors are responsible for identifying critical components, monitoring them and ensuring replacement before they become a danger. The duty holder ensures that appropriate corrective action is taken. Inspectors must have a detailed knowledge of the equipment and its application. They must ensure that records of each inspection are maintained, any findings, recommendations or urgent actions are reported to the duty holder, and information is made available to the equipment examiner.
They are responsible for repairing faults, as requested by the inspector or duty holder, as required by the manufacturer’s literature or in accordance with a planned maintenance regime defined by the risk assessment. They must have a thorough understanding of the equipment and its components, and an ability to select and use appropriate tools. Maintenance personnel must ensure repairs are done using suitable components and keep a maintenance log that can be made available to, for example, the inspector.
OPERATORSThey have a responsibility to only use lifting equipment for which they have received training. It must be operated in accordance with this training and the manufacturer’s literature after pre-use checking. Damage or changes in the operation of the equipment that may indicate a defect must be reported to the inspection/maintenance personnel.