Thorough examinations

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

A thorough examination needs to be carried out by a competent person. Where equipment is used to lift people, after it is commissioned, even if it is not repositioned and there are no incidents, there is still a requirement for a competent person to examine the equipment every 6 months unless there is an examination scheme that specifies a different timescale.

What is covered by a thorough examination?

This will depend on the judgement of the competent person undertaking the examination, but needs to include all matters which affects safety including hoists and accessories, and their likely deterioration with time.

For most common lifting equipment and accessories, there are industry standard procedures and criteria which a competent person would follow.

What is an examination scheme?

An examination scheme involves a thorough examination and would include a detailed schedule of checks, appropriate examination techniques and testing requirements, drawn up to suit the operating conditions of a specific item of lifting equipment. This can help ensure that the resources you spend more accurately reflect the level of risk. The examination scheme:

  • Should identify the parts of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined;
  • Can cover several similar items subject to the same operating conditions
  • May exceptionally specify periods that are different (longer or shorter) from the 6 monthly ‘Thorough In Service Examination’ intervals. However, a longer period must be based on a rigorous assessment of the risks and be recommended by the competent person;
  • Should include details of any other inspection regimes for the equipment that are in place;
  • Can be drawn up by the user, owner, manufacturer or some other independent person, as long as they have the necessary competence;
  • Should be reviewed regularly, during each thorough examination and after any event that may alter the risks associated with the lifting equipment. You must inform the competent person of any incidents that may affect the risks associated with the use of the equipment.

Definition of a competent person

LOLER considers a competent person to be someone with the relevant technical knowledge and practical experience of lifting equipment to enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the specific equipment being examined. This person should be sufficiently independent and impartial. However, this does not mean that they should be employed by an external company. If someone in the organisation has the necessary competence they can use it. However, ‘in house’ examiners must have genuine authority and independence to ensure examinations are properly carried out and that the necessary recommendations arising from them are made without fear or favour.

What happens if defects are found in the lifting equipment?

  • If the competent person finds a defect during the thorough examination which in their opinion is, or could become, a danger to people, they must tell you immediately and confirm this in the report of thorough examination.
  • If the competent person discovers a defect that involves an existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury, then they must tell you immediately and send a copy of their report to the relevant enforcing authority (HSE) even if the defects are remedied immediately. A competent person who fails to report a defect, simply because it has been remedied on the spot, is disguising a potentially dangerous situation.
  • You must take action to rectify any defect you are told about. If you are notified of a serious and significant defect, you must immediately take the lifting equipment out of service until the defect has been put right. If you do not you will be breaking the law.
  • For defects that need to be rectified within a certain timescale, you must repair or replace the defective equipment within the specified time, and not use after that time unless the defect has been satisfactorily put right.

Load tests

Most lifting equipment does not need routine load testing as part of the thorough examination, in fact some overload tests can cause damage to lifting equipment. Where testing is deemed necessary, it may not need be undertaken at every thorough examination. The need for, and nature of, testing should be based on an assessment of risk, taking account of information from the manufacturer and other relevant information, as determined by the competent person.

Next - the pre use checks that should be carried out and maintenance to ensure the equipment continues to operate as intended

pre use checks and maintenance