What is the difference between LOLER and PUWER?   

LOLER and PUWER are two sets of safety regulations that all lifting equipment must meet. While the basic principles are the same, LOLER expands on the requirements of PUWER to help protect against the specific risks of lifting or lowering loads. 

Both LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) are designed to ensure equipment is suitable and safe for use in the workplace and apply regardless of whether the equipment is owned or rented. 

The regulations require the equipment to be correctly installed, maintained and operated by a competent and qualified professional. The equipment must also be up to date with inspections, be properly examined at regular intervals to identify and resolve safety risks from wear or damage, and have suitable health and safety controls and markings. 

Failure to comply with LOLER and PUWER will lead to hefty fines, potential imprisonment and a risk of injury or death. 

Difference 1: The equipment and components covered 

PUWER applies generally to all work equipment to ensure it is safe and suitable for use. For some equipment, however, the demands of PUWER are not enough to protect those in the workplace.  

Hence, LOLER imposes additional requirements for lifting equipment on top of PUWER to mitigate the specific risks of lifting and lowering loads. It focuses on the strength and stability of both component parts and the entire system, as well as adequate strength of the equipment to lift the load. 

Lifting equipment encompasses any machinery or device that raises materials, objects or people off the ground or surface, or lowers them, as well as the attachments used to anchor, fix or support it. This means that LOLER applies to eye bolts as well as entire tower cranes. 

Other examples of lifting equipment include forklift trucks, telehandlers, mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs), refuse collection vehicles, vehicle tail lifts, passenger lifts in an office building, and patient hoists. Attachments also include chains, hooks and slings. 

Hence, a forklift truck must comply with both PUWER and LOLER. The mast, chains, carriage, forks and tilt mechanism are covered specifically by LOLER – with the chains and forks requiring detailed measurements to identify wear and damage – while the overhead guard, steering, seat mountings, tyres and breaks are covered more generally by PUWER. 

Difference 2: The health and safety markings required 

Because PUWER covers such a broad range of equipment, it is not specific on the safety markings needed. LOLER’s focus on adequate strength to lift the load means it requires the safe working load to be marked. This helps to prevent unnecessary mistakes and accidents resulting from loads that are too heavy for the equipment. 

Difference 3: The inspection intervals mandated 

PUWER only gives a suitable interval in which the equipment needs to be inspected, while LOLER stipulates a maximum timeframe between Thorough Examinations.  

Equipment or attachments for lifting people must undergo a Thorough Examination at least every six months. All other equipment must be inspected at least once a year, although the interval may be reduced to six or even four months depending on the application, intensity of use, environment and nature of any attachments. The Competent Person carrying out the Thorough Examination will be able to determine the appropriate interval. 

Discover how the FB Professional Fork Wear Gauge and Chain Wear Gauge can be used in Thorough Examinations under LOLER and PUWER. 

Click here to see all the elements a good Thorough Examination should cover.