New guidance has been issued by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE), following sustained lobbying from 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.

COVID-19_Guidance_for_thorough_examinations

Covid-19 guidance for thorough examinations.

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.

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, said, “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

IPAF has 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. www.ipaf.org/resources

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