Lifting, supporting and handling equipment can reduce the need for, or at least lighten the load of, manual handling tasks, reducing the risk of injuries like cuts, fractures and muscular and tendon strains. Unfortunately, lifting equipment causes many accidents within the workplace every year.

These incidents happen for many reasons, including:

  • failing to observe relevant legal requirements (i.e. complete appropriate risk assessments, training, inspections and maintenance);
  • selecting the wrong lifting equipment;
  • equipment failure due to damage, environmental factors or an inherent fault;
  • a lack of strength and stability and/or poor location choice for the lifting equipment;
  • the hazardous nature of the item being lifted, or items in the area;
  • collisions or impacts from dropped loads;
  • poorly managed safe systems of work.

To avoid lifting equipment causing more health and safety incidents than it prevents, the topic needs to be given serious consideration.

Key actions to manage the hazards relating to lifting equipment

  • Maintain all lifting equipment, including those that  are used occasionally, (such as attachments to forklift trucks) in accordance with statutory requirements and manufacturers’ guidance.
  • Train all users, particularly in the use of slings.
  • Plan lifts in advance.
  • Make sure the equipment is capable of lifting the weight of the load  and the weight is distributed appropriately.
  • Take wind into account (both indoors and outdoors) when choosing what equipment to use.
  • Don’t use any lifting equipment within 10 metres of overhead power cables.
  • Provide a safe place of work to maintain hoists and lifts, particularly at heights. Don’t let overhead travelling cranes work within 6m of people on crane tracks.
  • ·Check the condition, type and size of any eyebolts used and make sure the thread type matches the hole it’s to be screwed into.
  • Make sure that lifting equipment is sufficiently strong, stable and suitable for the proposed use, and marked to indicate its safe working load.
  • Position or install lifting equipment to minimise the risk of injury from the equipment or the load falling or striking people.
  • Check every part of the load, including (for example) pallets/stillages, as well as anything attached to the load, and elements used for lifting (like lifting points on skips), is strong enough.
  • Make sure systems of work are in place so lifting operations are planned, supervised and carried out in a safe way by competent people.
  • Get lifting equipment, including accessories, thoroughly examined for defects before it’s used for the first time (unless it’s new and covered by an EC declaration of conformity, less than 12 months old).
    • When the safety of lifting equipment depends on installation conditions, they must be thoroughly examined after installation and before being used for the first time.
    • Periodic thorough examinations are required every six months for accessories and equipment used for lifting people. All other equipment must be examined at the intervals laid down in an examination scheme drawn up by a competent person, and otherwise at least annually.

Templates that may help with lifting equipment

Guards and safety devices

Inspection form

Risk assessments

Example form

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about health and safety issues and related legislation.