What is a 'thorough examination' under LOLER?
This is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person who must then complete a written report. This report must contain the information required by LOLER Schedule 1, including:
- The examination date
- The date when the next thorough examination is due
- Any defects found which are (or could potentially become) a danger to people
Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must immediately report this verbally to the dutyholder. This should then be followed by the written report, a copy of which must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority.
When should thorough examinations be carried out?
In order to verify that lifting equipment and accessories remain safe for use, and to detect and remedy any deterioration in good time, thorough examinations are required throughout the lifetime of the equipment, including examinations:
- Before use for the first time - unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity less than one year old and the equipment was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to ensure that the assembly (eg a platform lift installed in a building) was completed correctly and safely
- After assembly and before use at each location - for equipment that requires assembly or installation before use, eg tower cranes
- regularly, while in service - if the equipment is exposed to conditions that cause deterioration which is likely to result in dangerous situations. Most lifting equipment will be subject to wear and tear and so will need regular in-service examination. Some may be exposed to significant environmental conditions which may cause further deterioration. You have a choice:
- Arrange for thorough examination to be carried out at the intervals specified by LOLER (every 6 or 12 months, depending on the equipment - see below), or
- conduct examinations in accordance with an examination scheme, drawn up by a competent person
What are the specified intervals for regular thorough examinations?
Unless there is an 'examination scheme' specifying other intervals, thorough examinations should be conducted every:
- 6 months, for lifting equipment and any associated accessories used to lift people
- 6 months, for all lifting accessories
- 12 months, for all other lifting equipment
What is covered by a thorough examination?
This depends on the professional judgement of the competent person undertaking the examination, but needs to include all matters which affect the safety of the lifting equipment, including likely deterioration with time.
For most common lifting equipment and accessories, there are industry standard procedures and criteria which a competent person would follow when undertaking thorough examinations and making judgements as to the continued safety of the equipment. Methods used include:
- Visual examination and functional checks
- Measurements of wear
- (In some cases) traditional NDT (non-destructive testing) and load testing Some disassembly or internal examination of parts may also be required.
Where an examination scheme has been drawn up, this should identify and specify:
- The parts to be thoroughly examined
- The methods of examination and testing
- The intervals for examination (and testing of the different parts, where appropriate)
The scheme should also include details of any other inspection regimes for the equipment. Examination schemes may be drawn up by any person with the necessary competence. This does not need to be the same competent person who conducts the thorough examination in accordance with the scheme.
Although examination schemes do not need to be preserved in the form of a document, it should be possible to produce a written copy when required (eg on request by the relevant enforcing authority). These should be secured from loss or unauthorised modification.