Lifting operations involve the lifting or lowering of any load, which can include people. When accidents involving lifting equipment occur the consequences can be tragic and extremely costly.
When accidents and incidents occur it can be caused by poor maintenance, insecure loads, unsecured plant or equipment, and inadequate training for both new and experienced workers.
Responsible employers must remain vigilant with respect to these ever-present risks and should encourage all workers to prioritise health and work safety at all times.
Human Focus offers two training courses in this toolkit:
- Lifting Operations – What Everyone Needs to Know
- Essentials of Conducting Lifting Operation Risk Assessment
Lifting and mechanical operations involve a wide range of equipment. This includes cranes, forklifts, trucks, pump-up trucks, lifts, and elevated mobile platforms.
It is essential to consider the activities involving lifting operations and the areas where they take place.
The hazards of lifting operations are numerous, and accidents can lead to injury, permanent disability, or death. Heavy lifting operations hazards can include:
The most common cause of lifting equipment failure is poor manufacturing, assembly, or maintenance. Other causes include inferior machinery, defective welds, residual welding stresses, and misalignment.
Loads can fall or drop due to unsafe stacking or because they are unsecured during transport. Incorrect attachment of lifting accessories like slings or the incorrect use of attachment equipment also contributes to serious onsite risk. Crane lifting is an area where the level of risk is particularly high.
When loads are unstable or improperly managed, it can result in crushing. This can occur when limbs or other body parts become trapped between the load and another surface.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers to perform a risk assessment of lifting operations to estimate the likelihood of accidents or incidents, along with the potential severity of these. Lifting risk assessments should be based on the type of lifting equipment being used and the type of load.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) place legal duties on individuals and organisations who own, operate or have control over work equipment. This includes stipulations such as that equipment is suitable, safe, and only used by those who have received proper training, instruction, and information on how to use it.
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) gives business owners and the self-employed responsibilities, so far as reasonably possible, to prevent accidents and incidents at work.
This makes companies accountable for ensuring the safety of those whose work involves lifting equipment. LOLER also demands that all lifting equipment is fit for purpose, task-relevant, well-marked, and, in many cases, subject to periodic legal ‘thorough examination.’
A vital risk control outlined in the above legislation is ensuring competency starting with the planning of the lift.
A lift plan should include:
- Calculating crane size
- Permissible wind conditions
- Stability of the ground
Competent persons are also required during the lift itself, including a:
- Supervisor – appointed to supervise on the day of the lift
- Operator – appointed to operate the crane, and
- Slinger or Signal caller – appointed to sling the loads and give directions to the operator
Both managers and workers are lawfully required to participate in the promotion of a risk-free work environment.
Employers must ensure:
- Equipment is strong, stable, and suitable for the application and the load
- There is no risk of lifting equipment that could cause instability in the lifting system
- Loads are installed correctly to prevent any injury
- Employee safety
- Take proper care of themselves and others who may be harmed by their actions and co-operate with others
- Take effectual steps to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery
- Get appropriate training before start working with lifting equipment
- Take action to minimise or prevent accidents at work
- Co-operate with managers to document all steps taken toward compliance
A toolbox talk is a short presentation to employees highlighting an aspect of health and safety. The content will vary based on your own site, and the types of lifting operations undertaken.
Some examples of what may be included are:
- Roles and responsibilities
- Lift planning
- How to mark lifting equipment properly
- Lifting equipment inspection
- Load stability and security
- Weather conditions
- Load balancing
- Overhead hazards
- Where to position yourself during lifting operations
Lifting operations often put people at significant risk of injury and companies at significant financial risk. It is, essential to plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out safely.
Lifting operations must be carried out step-by-step by workers who demonstrate competence and have practical knowledge of involved equipment.
All workers should learn about lifting operations management and Health & Safety and Regulation 8 of lifting operations. This training can occur through an online training course covering all basic safe working principles, risk assessment, and hazard control measures.