The Health & Safety Executive has responded to concerns that managers and operators of lifting equipment may be cutting corners during the Covid-19 crisis by issuing a reminder that they still need to be carrying out thorough examination and testing of plant and equipment.

Covid-19 is no excuse not to ensure lifting equipment is safe to use

The law for Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place, the HSE says, and the legal requirement to carry out thorough examination and testing (TE&T) overrides the recommendation for staying two metres apart from everyone else.

“Ensure social distancing measures in the workplace aren’t perceived to be a barrier to carrying out TE&T,” the HSE says in its latest bulletin. “Businesses and inspection bodies should cooperate to ensure access to plant and equipment for TE&T continues to schedule.”

The bulletin goes on to say: “For businesses that are currently closed, i.e. they have either elected or been required to do so to meet Covid-19 related government advice or restrictions, you should still give access to visiting inspectors to undertake thorough examinations.”

It adds: “If you experience problems in undertaking scheduled thorough examinations as you can’t cannot access inspection services, you should adopt a risk based process to determine the whether there are steps you can to take to safely continue to use equipment (that has not had its scheduled TE&T) or decide to stop using the equipment. The overarching legal obligation remains, i.e. ensure that equipment is safe to use.”

HSE says that it is adopting “a pragmatic and proportionate approach towards enforcement action for non-compliance with statutory requirements” during the current crisis. “Our usual enforcement response will be to take no action if the only failing is that TE&T is not carried out by the required date. Equipment should only be used outside of its test regime if you can demonstrate that it is critical for essential work and that it can still be operated safely.

“You must be able to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to have the TE&T carried out, made a thorough assessment of the increased risk and taken appropriate action to manage it.”