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PUWER and LOLER: Understanding the Differences

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Guides, LOLER Inspection

For workplace safety within the UK, two acronyms frequently crop up: LOLER and PUWER. At first glance, their health and safety regulations may seem to overlap. So what’s the difference between PUWER and LOLER? Understanding these two distinct sets of regulations is crucial for anyone involved in managing or working with lifting equipment and machinery. We’re providing some clarity on these regulations, pinpointing their differences, and offering practical advice on staying compliant and safe.

Key Takeaways 

Inspection FrequencyAt least every 6 months for lifting persons or accessories, 12 months otherwiseSuitable intervals, not specifically defined
CoverageLifting equipment exclusivelyAll work equipment including lifting devices
Stability RequirementsMust ensure equipment stability for the loadGeneral requirement for equipment stability
MarkingsRequires specific markings for safe working loadsGeneral requirements for health and safety markings
ApplicationSpecifically for lifting operations and equipmentFor all work equipment

What is LOLER?

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) specifically address the safety concerns surrounding lifting equipment used at work. From construction cranes to patient hoists in healthcare settings, LOLER’s reach is extensive, focusing on ensuring that all lifting operations are performed safely, and the equipment used is fit for purpose.

What is PUWER?

On the flip side, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) covers a broader spectrum of work equipment. It’s not just about lifting; whether it’s a power drill, an industrial mixer, or an entire production line, if it’s equipment used at work, PUWER has a say in how it should be selected, maintained, and operated to ensure safety.

What’s the difference between PUWER and LOLER?

The key differences between LOLER and PUWER lie within scope and application; inspection and certification; and risk assessments.

  • Scope and Application: The most striking difference lies in their scope. LOLER has a laser focus on lifting operations and equipment. In contrast, PUWER applies to all types of work equipment, making its application far broader.
  • Inspection and Certification: LOLER mandates regular thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment and accessories, requiring formal records held in line with record-keeping requirements. PUWER also demands equipment is inspected, but the focus is on ensuring it’s maintained in a safe condition, with the frequency of checks being more flexible and based on risk assessments.
  • Risk Assessment: Both regulations require risk assessments, but LOLER emphasizes planning and safely conducting lifting operations, considering the location, equipment, and load. PUWER, while also requiring a risk assessment, is more focused on the equipment’s suitability for the task, its condition, and how it’s used.

LOLER: Compliance with LOLER regulations involves conducting thorough examinations of lifting equipment at least every six months (for accessories and lifting people) or 12 months (for other lifting equipment). Keeping detailed records of these inspections, defects, and corrective actions is also mandatory.

PUWER: Whilst there is no specific inspection frequency to PUWER, ensuring equipment is suitable for the intended use, regularly maintained, and inspected according to manufacturer’s guidelines or risk assessment findings is key to compliance. Training and clear operating instructions for users are also crucial.

Does equipment inspected under LOLER automatically comply with PUWER?

While a LOLER inspection is thorough in the context of lifting operations and equipment, it doesn’t necessarily cover all aspects that PUWER demands. For instance, PUWER covers a broader range of safety considerations, including the overall suitability of the equipment for specific tasks, maintenance beyond the integrity of lifting components, and user training. Whereas LOLER concentrates on preventing accidents that could result from failed lifting operations.

In essence, while there’s some overlap—like the necessity for equipment to be safe and regularly inspected—the specific requirements of PUWER extend beyond what a LOLER inspection covers. To fully comply with PUWER, an item or piece of equipment would need to undergo additional evaluations focused on its general use, maintenance records, and the adequacy of user instructions and training, among other things.

So, if you’re managing equipment that falls under the scope of LOLER, it’s worthwhile to also check it against PUWER requirements, especially if that equipment is used for more than just lifting. It’s like covering all your bases to ensure not just compliance, but also the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Keeping up with both sets of regulations ensures your workplace is not just legally compliant but also a safer environment for everyone.

Maintain Compliance With Bramley Engineering

Under LOLER it is required that inspections be carried out by a competent person who is adequately independent and impartial to their lifting operations, so it’s wise for an organisation to hire an external party like Bramley Engineering to carry out their LOLER tests on their behalf. And whilst LOLER does not go the full way to maintaining an organisation’s obligations under PUWER, it will go a good way to ensuring the safety of the equipment in question when used in a lifting operation or otherwise.

Having your LOLER inspections carried out by Bramley Engineering will ensure your lifting equipment is safe and fit for purpose, whilst ensuring your record-keeping requirements under LOLER are looked after with all LOLER certificates from Bramley Engineering stored in their online database accessible by you or your team 24/7. Request a free LOLER inspection quote from Bramley Engineering today.

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