LOLER and PUWER are two sets of health and safety regulations. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). And the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
Both sets of regulations apply to equipment and have some overlap in the way they apply. For some equipment and activities, you might need to comply with one regulation. For others, you might need to comply with both.
So when does LOLER apply? When does PUWER? And when do both? What are the similarities and differences between these health and safety regulations?
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) apply to work equipment. That's all types and any equipment used at work. If you own, operate, use or have control over work equipment, PUWER applies.
PUWER requires all equipment used at work to be suitable and safe for use, correctly installed, maintained and used. It should have suitable health and safety controls and markings.
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply to, you guessed it, lifting equipment and operations. If you own operate or control lifting equipment, these regulations apply.
A lifting operation could be the lifting or lowering of any load, including materials, people, or other equipment. Lifting equipment must be fit for purpose, suitable for the task, marked and subject to periodic inspections.
LOLER and PUWER are often referred to together because they do have some overlap. Both sets of regulations apply to equipment. Both sets of regulations place duties and requirements on the inspection and installation of equipment.
The names of the regulations kind of give this difference away. But it's important to remember that lifting equipment is still equipment, so both LOLER and PUWER apply here.
But if we already have PUWER, and that covers inspection, installation, maintenance and suitability of work equipment, why do we need LOLER?
The best way to think of it is that LOLER includes some extra requirements for lifting equipment. So lifting equipment must comply with all the requirements of PUWER, which we cover in more depth in what PUWER stands for. But it must also comply with the additional requirements of LOLER, which we also cover in more detail in what LOLER stands for.
Here are some of the main differences to be aware of.
Both sets of regulations require markings. But because PUWER covers a variety of equipment, it's not specific in what markings you need.
23. Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is marked in a clearly visible manner with any marking appropriate for reasons of health and safety.
Now, it might be fairly obvious to think that, for lifting equipment, you need to know what weight the equipment can lift. It might seem appropriate for the weight the equipment can safely lift to be marked on it. So, if you were thinking this, you are one step ahead.
LOLER, because it's specific to lifting equipment, does detail the markings required for safe working loads on equipment.
7. Every employer shall ensure that—
- subject to sub-paragraph (b), machinery and accessories for lifting loads are clearly marked to indicate their safe working loads;
- where the safe working load of machinery for lifting loads depends on its configuration—
- the machinery is clearly marked to indicate its safe working load for each configuration; or
- information which clearly indicates its safe working load for each configuration is kept with the machinery;
The regulation goes on to require marking of lifting accessories and marking of the equipment to show if it is designed for the lifting of persons.
Both sets of regulations require equipment to be stable. This makes sense because any equipment that is unstable could overturn or lose control and hurt someone.
20. Every employer shall ensure that work equipment or any part of work equipment is stabilised by clamping or otherwise where necessary for purposes of health or safety.
Its common sense that lifting equipment needs to be stable during any lifting operation. So it needs the strength and stability for the load it will be lifting. And yes, that is exactly what LOLER adds to the requirements for lifting equipment.
4. Every employer shall ensure that—
- lifting equipment is of adequate strength and stability for each load, having regard in particular to the stress induced at its mounting or fixing point;
- every part of a load and anything attached to it and used in lifting it is of adequate strength.
Both sets of regulations require equipment to be inspected after installation and before being put into service for the first time, and after assembly at a new site or in a new location. Both sets of regulations also require equipment to be examined at suitable intervals to ensure any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time. So these requirements are the same.
The difference can be found in that while PUWER only goes as far as to say suitable intervals, LOLER goes further. It gives a maximum timeframe between thorough examinations.
- thoroughly examined—
- in the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons or an accessory for lifting, at least every 6 months;
- in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or
- in either case, in accordance with an examination scheme; and
- each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the lifting equipment have occurred; and
- if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations
You have probably noticed that many of the differences between LOLER and PUWER aren't really differences at all. LOLER actually expands on the requirements under PUWER, to make them more specific to lifting equipment.