Organising lifting operations has a number of hazards involved and it’s easy for duty holders to omit important steps depending on how complex the task is. In order to comply with Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), it’s important to follow specific criteria when organising this type of operation. 

These various criteria are addressed in Regulation 8 of the LOLER guidelines. In this blog, we will look at the key points within these guidelines, and assess what your responsibilities are as a duty holder in organising lifting operations under LOLER. 

Common hazards

There are a number of hazards involved with lifting operations and mistakes are often made during the organisation process. While routine lifting tasks will usually have a standard plan, more complex lifts have a number of additional risk factors that may be missed through a standardised approach. 

The number of hazards involved in a lift are usually linked to the complexity of the operation. That’s why it’s so important to plan for as many foreseeable risks as possible. Common hazards include: 

  • Uncertainty of the load’s weight and centre of gravity
  • Location and integrity of lifting points
  • Drag factors such as high surface area or lifting a floating load
  • The condition, stability and shape of the load
  • Extreme weather conditions (such as snow or wind)
  • Poor ground conditions
  • Surroundings and presence of walkways, power lines, etc.

In addition to these specific hazards, there are larger safety considerations that should be taken into account too. The strength and stability of the lifting equipment is essential and organising lifting operations shouldn’t just take into account the load capacity of a piece of equipment, but the various forces that the equipment will be subject to during the operation. 

The positioning of lifting equipment is also vital which is why it’s essential to take all steps possible to avoid loads being lifted over people. Unless unavoidable, loads shouldn’t be suspended over areas occupied by people. This may require more detailed planning. 

These various hazards should all be taken into account during the organisation and execution of any lifting operation - particularly those that are complicated or non-standard. LOLER provides a useful set of guidelines to ensure that duty holders are not only well-prepared but also compliant to their legal obligations.

Why it’s important to organise lifting operations as per LOLER

It’s easy to see LOLER (and any other guidelines) as an administrative obligation, but these regulations provide helpful guidance on what to consider when organising a lifting operation. 

As a duty holder, therefore, it’s important to follow LOLER when organising lifts to ensure the safety of those involved in the operation. All the information you need to know when organising lifting is included in Regulation 8 of the guidelines. 


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Regulation 8

Regulation 8 of the LOLER 1998 guidelines is entitled ‘Organisation of lifting operations’ and is specifically concerned with making sure that lifting operations are safe. The regulation deals with what must be done before, during and after lifting to make sure the operation is undertaken safely and with as few risks as possible. 

This section of the LOLER guidelines covers the planning of lifting operations, appropriate supervision and how to carry out lifts safely. Let’s consider what is included in each section. 

Planning lifting operations

The planning of a lifting operation should be undertaken by a person who is ‘competent’. While we’ll cover what this term means for duty holders in the final section of this blog, in the context of planning, a ‘competent person’ should be suitably experienced and knowledgeable enough to formulate a procedure. It’s also essential that any competent person assigned to planning should undertake appropriate training to ensure they are able to perform their job safely.  

Regulation 8 of LOLER suggests that planning should be divided into two processes - initial planning and the planning of individual lifting operations. 

According to SAFed (The Safety Assessment Federation), initial planning should establish a safe system of work to ensure the operation is properly managed and that the equipment is suitable for the tasks at hand. Here are a few vital things to include in the safe system of work:

  • Planning the lifting operation (including individual lift plans)
  • Selection and provision of suitable lifting equipment
  • Site preparation (including entry and/or exit routes for lifting machines, as well as erection, dismantling and setting up arrangements)
  • LOLER Inspection, maintenance, thorough examination and testing where necessary
  • Properly trained and competent personnel with appropriate supervision
  • Safety of persons not involved in the lifting operation
  • Coordination and control of all crane movements and activities in the area of the lifting operation.

The safe system of work acts as an overview for general operations, while the second process - planning of individual lifting operations, concerns each specific lift. For routine operations, where the weight of the load can be simply established and there are no significant hazards, the lift plan may simply be a matter for the people using the equipment. 

For more complex lifting operations, however, a documented lift plan will be required each time a lift is carried out. This plan will need to consider the hazards associated with the load, as well as the specific lifting equipment and environment. 

Appropriate supervision

LOLER defines ‘appropriate supervision’ as “supervision which is proportionate to the risk and takes account of the personnel involved in the particular lifting operation, such as those with disabilities and the inexperienced”.

Supervision will vary between lifts, with more complex operations requiring experienced supervision, while routine lifts may be planned and executed by the people using the equipment. 

How to carry out lifting operations safely

Finally, the Approved Code of Practice L113 identifies the 12 factors that should be considered in order to carry out lifting operations safely. These factors are:

  • Working under suspended loads
  • Visibility
  • Attaching, detaching and securing loads
  • Environment
  • Location
  • Overturning
  • Proximity hazards
  • Derating
  • Lifting persons
  • Overload
  • Pre-use checking
  • Continuing integrity of the equipment.

Further information on each of these factors can be found in the LOLER guidelines.

Crucially, according to Regulation 8, every “operation involving lifting equipment” should be “properly planned by a competent person”, “appropriately supervised” and “carried out in a safe manner”. 

So what do these terms actually mean in relation to your responsibilities as a duty holder?

The responsibilities of a duty holder

As a duty holder, there are a few key responsibilities when organising lifting operations, which all relate to Regulation 8. 

Firstly, you are responsible for nominating a ‘competent person’ to plan the lifting operations. LOLER defines a ‘competent person’ in this context as a person with the “relevant knowledge and expertise” to provide the lifting plan. In addition to technical expertise, the competent person should also be independent and impartial. For more information on what a competent person means under LOLER, visit our blog >

It is essential, therefore, to ensure that all operations are planned by somebody with the level of capability and understanding suitable for the complexity of each particular lifting operation. 

Secondly, duty holders are responsible for providing appropriate supervision for the task. By ensuring the person supervising the operation is suitably experienced, they are ensuring compliance with both LOLER and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Finally, it is the duty holder’s responsibility to ensure that lifting operations are carried out safely. This means thorough initial planning, as well as more specific planning of individual lifting operations, which take into account the above 12 factors of carrying out lifting operations safely. 

The LOLER inspection is an important part of this process and it’s important to find a supplier with both an exceptional knowledge of the regulations and a wide range of services to ensure your lifting equipment is both compliant and safe. 

To help you prepare for your LOLER inspection, we've produced a completely free guide which highlights all of the questions to ask your engineering inspection company to make sure you are getting the best service possible. 

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