New guidance has been issued by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE), following sustained lobbying from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) to clarify what should happen to machines that require renewal of safety testing certificates while the country is still in partial lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) must be carried out at specified intervals by a recognised inspector to check equipment is safe for use. Similar certifications are required for other plant equipment, and the latest guidance issued by the HSE also covers these.
IPAF worked along with partner organisations including the Hire Association of Europe (HAE) and Build UK to express member firms’ concerns about how to renew or extend expiring LOLER certificates, with regards equipment movements and a possible shortage of inspection capability while the UK is under lockdown and in the period during which lockdown is being lifted.
Following lobbying by IPAF of the HSE directly and a letter from Peter Douglas, IPAF’s CEO, to Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, under whose remit the UK HSE falls, new guidance has now been issued, while IPAF has also produced its own document and checklist tailored to those in the powered access industry (see www.ipaf.org/resources).
The HSE reiterates the importance of maintaining thorough examination and testing of equipment within the required time period, and outlines new recommendations for maintaining safe access or movement of equipment to comply with this requirement.
If the requirements cannot be met, the HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach for equipment used beyond its specified time period, as long as the reasons for being unable to comply are coronavirus-related or the resulting backlog in testing. Operators are expected to mitigate any such extensions, for example via enhanced regular inspections and maintenance by qualified persons until such time as certification can be renewed.
Peter Douglas, CEO and Managing Director of IPAF, says: “During lockdown and while the country seeks to restart key sections of the economy, concerns were expressed to us by our members that the UK HSE should issue clear guidance and/or a temporary exemption from the regular schedule of LOLER certification to minimise disruption and onerous movement of plant and machines.
“Our members remained committed to compliance with the HSE’s requirements, and safety is always paramount, but felt that due to the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak a safe compromise or update to the regulations should be found.
“Members are worried that service, inspection and certification providers may be closed or working to reduced capacity. They point out that moving equipment long distances to find a suitable location for a qualified engineer to carry out thorough examination and testing might cause machine shortages to carry out work at height and this in turn could force standstills or lead to the wrong type of equipment being used, jeopardising safety.
“Furthermore, a shortage of inspectors available or willing to enter a premises owing to concerns about Covid-19 might also hamper efforts to maintain thorough examination and testing within required time limits, and at very least could lead to a backlog of tests needing to be carried out.
“After several weeks of discussions with the UK Government, Build UK & the HSE, IPAF and our fellow trade organisations have succeeded in expressing the collective concerns of our members, and that new guidance has now been issued that should ensure safety through enhanced on-site inspections during the hopefully temporary period as the UK transitions out of lockdown and the country gets back to work.”
The document has now been published by the HSE, and is available to view online at the HSE website; the guidance re-emphasises the requirements to maintain safety inspections and testing within required timeframes, but gives advice about how to best to safely prepare and extend access to equipment to facilitate this.
IPAF has now also published specific guidance on continuing to meet inspection and thorough examination requirements for powered access operators during ongoing coronavirus restrictions, along with a stringent pre-use inspection checklist. Both documents are available at www.ipaf.org/resources. The HSE also references IPAF’s recently-issued guidance for safe operation of MEWPs, MCWPs, construction lifts & hoists to minimise risk during the coronavirus outbreak.
It also sets out the conditions under which equipment owners may continue to allow a machine to operate outside the inspection time period, providing the reasons why the requirements cannot be met and efforts to comply are fully documented, and allowing for mitigation in the form of enhanced regular inspection regimes and/or restricted use until such time that the certification can be renewed.
● In addition to the new HSE guidance, IPAF has published its own coronavirus safety documents and checklist, as well as a free webinar to explain the key principles and measures, hosted by health & safety professional and IPAF UK Country Council member Chris Wraith. To view the IPAF webinar click here, or to download the new IPAF guidance click here.