What is a ‘Competent Person’?

A competent person is someone who has appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the equipment for which they act as 'competent person'. This knowledge and experience can help them detect defects / weaknesses and assess whether they will affect the continued safe use of the equipment.

The competent person must be sufficiently independent and impartial to make objective decisions. However, this should not be the same person who performs routine servicing / maintenance, as they would be responsible for assessing their own work.

A competent person may be employed by a separate company or selected by an employer from their own staff. They should have genuine competence, authority and independence to ensure examinations are properly carried out, so that any recommendations that arise can be made without fear or favour. (Source HSE)

What types of lifting equipment should be examined?

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply to any lifting equipment used at work - including employees' own lifting equipment - for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. However, the Regulations do not extend to fixed anchor points that form part of a building or structure.

LOLER covers a wide range of equipment, including:

  • Cranes
  • Fork-lift trucks
  • Lifts
  • Hoists
  • Mobile elevating work platforms
  • Vehicle inspection platform hoists

The Regulations also include lifting accessories, such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. LOLER does not apply to escalators, which are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. (Source HSE)

How often should my lifting equipment be examined?

Thorough examination of lifting equipment must take place every 12 months - or every 6 months if the equipment is used to lift people. Any accessories used in lifting should also be inspected every 6 months. These are the minimum requirements, where there is no formal 'examination scheme' drawn up by a competent person.

The competent person may impose a more rigorous examination scheme, for example when the lifting equipment:

  • Is used in extremes of temperature (eg in a foundry or a freezer)
  • Is used in a potentially corrosive environment (eg seafront)
  • Is subjected to particularly heavy use
  • Could lead to potentially catastrophic consequences if it failed (eg resulting in multiple deaths or the release of dangerous material)

In some cases, the period between thorough examinations may be extended under an 'examination scheme', where either deterioration will be very slow (eg when lifting equipment is only very occasionally used and stored in dry, non-corrosive environments); or when it is one of a very large number of identical items - where a sampling and inspection scheme may be more appropriate.

In addition to these scheduled examinations, equipment will require a thorough examination following:

  • Any accident or dangerous occurrence
  • Any significant change in conditions of use
  • The replacement of any parts that are subject to thorough examination
  • Any long periods of inaction
What is a ‘Thorough Examination’?

A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the lifting equipment by a competent person to detect any defects that are, or might become, dangerous.

My recent examination has highlighted a ‘Serious Defect’, what happens now?

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 the report to the relevant enforcing authority (HSE or the local authority), 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 equipment out of service until the defect has been put right and a thorough examination carried out that states the equipment is safe to use. If you do not, you will be breaking the law.

Can I lift persons with my forklift truck or telescopic handler?

Yes, you can use a forklift truck or telescopic handler for lifting persons but only in exceptional circumstances for non routine tasks using a specifically designed and tested working platform.

A more appropriate method of working at heights should be employed such as permanent / temporary scaffold or a mobile elevating work platform.A person should not be lifted on the forks, pallet or bucket on the front of a forklift truck or telescopic handler under any circumstances.

The recognised minimum examination frequency of a lift truck used to lift a person is six months.

Does local exhaust ventilation (LEV) equipment require thorough examination?

LEV plant is found in a range of business sectors from small garages and paint shops to major woodworking and metalworking industries. The equipment is designed to prevent exposure by employees and others by harmful vapour, dust or fumes from the  work area.

The COSHH regulations require that LEV plant is thoroughly examined and tested by a competent person, this examination should be completed at intervals dependant on the substances being controlled and the application of the equipment. For example, metal/shot blasting requires an examination every month but non-ferrous metal working equipment requires an examination every six months.

If my local exhaust ventilation is ‘Not Satisfactory’ following thorough examination and test, what must I do?

The equipment should be clearly marked by the competent person as ‘FAILED’ and it should be withdrawn from service and the faults rectified. A further thorough examination and test should be carried out to confirm that the system is satisfactory (controlling employee exposure) before returning to service.

What is LOLER?

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) addresses the specific risks associated with the use of lifting equipment. Thorough examination and inspection are key requirements of the Regulations. To meet these requirements, duty holders must:

  • Ensure lifting equipment (including lifting accessories) exposed to conditions causing deterioration which could lead to dangerous situations undergoes regular thorough examination by a competent person; and
  • Ensure all supplementary inspections and tests recommended by the competent person are carried out within the timescale stated. Examples of conditions causing deterioration are wet, abrasive or corrosive environments.
What is PUWER?

The Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • Suitable for the intended use
  • Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
  • Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
  • Used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses

Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of LOLER and pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations.

I have a new air receiver, do I need to do anything before it goes in to service?

Yes, it will require a thorough examination, this will be detailed in the Written Scheme of Examination

What is a ‘Written Scheme of Examination’ for a pressure system?

A written scheme of examination is a document containing information about selected items of plant or equipment which form a pressure system, operate under pressure and contain a ‘relevant fluid’.

The term relevant fluid is defined in the Regulations and covers compressed or liquefied gas, including air, at a pressure greater than 0.5 bar (approximately 7 psi) above atmospheric pressure; pressurised hot water above 110 °C; and steam at any pressure. Typical contents of a written scheme of examination include:

  • Identification of the items of plant or equipment within the system;
  • Those parts of the system which are to be examined;
  • The nature of the examination required, including the inspection and testing to be carried out on any protective devices;
  • The preparatory work needed for the item to be examined safely;
  • Where appropriate, the nature of any examination needed before the system is first used;
  • The maximum interval between examinations;
  • The critical parts of the system which, if modified or repaired, should be examined by a competent person before the system is used again;
  • The name of the competent person certifying the written scheme of examination; and
  • The date of certification
What is an EC Declaration of Conformity?

An EC Declaration of Conformity is issued with new products which legally need to comply with any relevant EC Product Directive before the product can be supplied in the UK or anywhere else in the European Community.

The Declaration of Conformity, along with CE marking, is confirmation that the product meets the essential requirements for safety.

The Declaration lasts for the lifespan of the machine unless major alterations are made. It must be passed to any new owner when the item is sold. For lifting equipment the declaration allows new plant a short period of exemption for thorough examination. This is normally 12 months providing safety does not depend upon installation conditions.

Can I use an excavator for lifting?

Yes, but the machine must be thoroughly examined, have a current report of thorough examination and additional safety devices must be fitted, including a boom lowering device (usually check valves) and an acoustic warning device.

If the only job that the excavator does is ‘earth moving’ then the requirements of the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) apply. Under PUWER there must be an appropriate maintenance regime and an inspection of the machine at intervals specified by a competent person.

Can the organisation carrying out service and repair of my equipment also carry out the Thorough Examination?

Yes, it can be the same organisation, however, this should not be the same person who undertakes routine maintenance of the equipment - as they would then be responsible for assessing their own maintenance work.

Although the competent person may often be employed by another organisation, this is not necessary, provided they are sufficiently independent and impartial to ensure that in-house examinations are made without fear or favour.

Can I keep the Report of Thorough Examination electronically?

Yes, examination and inspection records do not need to be kept in hard copy form but you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary (eg upon request by the relevant enforcing authority or when lifting equipment leaves your undertaking, under hire, use elsewhere, or second-hand sale). The records should also be protected from unauthorised alteration.

How long do I need to keep my Report of Thorough Examination?
Type of examination or inspection How long to keep records
Thorough examination before first use Lifting equipment – until the employer ceases to use the lifting equipment.

Lifting accessories – for two years.
Thorough examination before use where the safety of the equipment depends on the installation conditions. Until the equipment is no longer in use at the place where it was installed /assembled
In-service thorough examination (6-monthly, 12-monthly or examination scheme). Until the next report is made or two years, whichever is the later.
In-service inspections/tests. Until the next report is made.
Does lifting equipment need to be marked with Safe Working Load (SWL)?

Yes, all lifting equipment, including accessories, must be clearly marked to indicate their SWL - the maximum load the equipment can safely lift.

Where the SWL of any equipment or accessory depends on its configuration, the information provided on the SWL must reflect all potential configurations (for example, where the hook of an engine hoist can be moved to different positions, the SWL should be shown for each position). In some cases, the information should be kept with the lifting machinery, eg the rated capacity indicator fitted to a crane, showing the operator the SWL for any of the crane's permitted lifting configurations.

How do I know if my pressure system needs a thorough examination?

The following list gives examples of pressure systems that might require a written scheme of examination and subsequent thorough examination, the list is not exhaustive, conbtact the CTS Safety office and we can advise the requirements for your pressure system:

  • A compressed air receiver and the associated pipework, where the product of the pressure in bars multiplied by the internal capacity in litres of the receiver is equal to or greater than 250 bar litres;
  • A steam sterilising autoclave and associated pipework and protective devices;
  • A steam boiler and associated pipework and protective devices;
  • A pressure cooker;
  • A gas-loaded hydraulic accumulator;
  • A vapour compression refrigeration system where the installed power exceeds 25 kw;
  • A narrow-gauge steam locomotive;
  • The components of self-contained breathing apparatus sets (excluding the gas container); and
  • A fixed liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) storage system, supplying fuel for heating in a workplace.
Who should carry out examinations of lifting equipment that has been hired in?

Although a person using hired lifting equipment, eg a crane, always has a duty to comply with the requirements for thorough examination, it is usually the case that such examinations are, in fact, carried out by, or on behalf of, the plant hire company.

The responsibility in law, however, rests upon the user and they should, therefore, always satisfy themselves at the outset that there is a current report of thorough examination.