Hoist safety

There are many different options for sailors to get in and out of boats and a full assessment of each sailor should be made before deciding that a hoist is the only option.

For some, access to a hoist, along with trained and competent volunteers or staff, makes the difference between whether they can go boating or not.

Every year a significant number of incidents are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in which people are injured while being moved by hoisting equipment. The information contained in this guidance note aims to help Sailability sites ensure they have the right processes in place to prevent accidents. More information can be found in the HSE's publication 'Getting to grips with hoisting people'.

Sailability sites will use other lifting equipment and many of the same issues covered in this guidance will be relevant but may vary slightly because people are not involved.

This advice and guidance note draws on Health and Safety Executive published practice and has been externally validated by Health and Safety consultants.


Organisations and individuals have a duty of care to each other and others who may be affected by their activities. Health and Safety legislation and the subsequent regulations impose duties on employers and is aimed at protecting employees and others who may be affected by work activities.

Following the requirements of the regulations listed below is likely to mean satisfying these legal duties for both voluntary organisations and employers.

Hoists and slings are considered to be medical devices (see Medical Device Directive) and the equipment manufacturer is required to provide suitable instructions for use, including compatibility information and guidance on the checks and examinations you should carry out. In addition, there are two key pieces of legislation affecting the use of hoists:

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)

This regulation has been prepared by the HSE for the Health and Safety Commission. It is now law under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Its aim is to reduce risks to people using lifting equipment. LOLER requires Sites to:

  • Ensure that lifting equipment is strong and stable enough for its intended use and that it is marked with its maximum load.
  • Position and install equipment, minimising the risk to operators and users.
  • Use the equipment safely and ensure all hoist lifts are planned, organised and performed by trained people.
  • Ensure equipment and its accessories have regular checks and examinations.

Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

  • Equipment provided for use at work must be suitable for its intended use
  • All equipment must be safe for use and maintained in a safe condition
  • The equipment is only used by persons who have had appropriate training and have access to user guides
  • Equipment must be accompanied by suitable safety measures such as protective devices, markings and warnings.

Next - a quick guide to required actions for equipment used to lift people. Please read the whole guide for definitions and context.

Quick guide to required actions
Hoist safety and maintenance
Quick guide - required actions

For equipment used to lift people - please read the whole guide for definitions and context

Thorough examinations

There is a requirement for a competent person to examine the equipment every 6 months

Pre-use checks and maintenance

Pre-use checks should be carried out at the start of any session or when there is a change in operator/s. Routine maintenance ensures equipment continues to operate as intended.

Staff and operators

Clubs and centres have responsibility to ensure volunteers and staff are fully trained.

Equipment users

Each person should have a specific handling plan to match their individual needs as well as the needs of the volunteers/staff involved.


Download the advice and guidance note: hoist safety and maintenance

Download - hoist safety and maintenance

Download the standard individual lifting plan (word doc)

Download - standard personal lifting plan
Incident and accident reporting

Accidents happen and can often be linked to shortcomings in knowledge and human behaviour so initiatives to share information about what can and does go wrong are invaluable.

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