With a history that stretches back to the building of the Pyramids, overhead lifting has long played a key role in a wide range of industries – including the subsea and offshore sectors. for the most part, the equipment involved is familiar and, in many cases, relatively straightforward. However, despite (or perhaps because of) this high level of familiarity and ubiquity, lifting remains a common cause of accidents. And given the typically tough working environments involved, it is not surprising that the risks are often greater in subsea and offshore applications. for employers, the good news is that implementing a safe and legal lifting programme is not usually an unduly complex process. furthermore, practical guidance and support is readily available. As a starting point, here are six useful tips for safer lifting, along with some of the most common errors and oversights.

1. Get to grips with LOLER Anyone with responsibility for lifting in the UK should of course be familiar with LOLER (Lifting Operations and lifting Equipment Regulations), as well as the broader demands of PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) and the Health and Safety at Work Act. Introduced in the UK in 1998, lOlER takes a modern, risk-based approach, and emphasises the need to use competent staff for all aspects of lifting operations. However, it is not unduly prescriptive, giving employers flexibility to tailor their approach to suit individual circumstances.

LOLER is generally regarded as a sensible piece of legislation. Reflecting this, over recent years an ever-increasing number of companies operating outside the UK, particularly in regions that lack lifting-specific regulations, have chosen to adopt LOLER as best practice.

2. Plan properly

Inadequate planning is the root cause of p26 | | March 2017

most lifting-related accidents. Often this is reflected in last minute attempts to deal with an unexpected or awkward load, compounded by the use of untrained and/ or poorly supervised staff.

Nearly all such incidents could be avoided by the implementation of effective planning procedures. Naturally the extent of such planning should reflect the complexity of the lifting operation in question. A complex operation, for example, might be characterised by a dangerous or abnornmal load, the need to perform the lift in unusual circumstances or difficult conditions, and/or involve the use of more than one piece of lifting equipment. In such cases, a written plan is generally essential.

Even when the lift is routine, planning should always include processes such as a careful assessment of the load and the route it will take, selection of appropriate equipment, and a trial lift. With the load lifted to a nominal height, its balance, stability and security can be assessed prior to the lifting operation proper.

For certain applications it is well worth considering the benefits of special- purpose equipment. Similarly, many potential problems can be avoided by simply ensuring that the designer of the load in question incorporates a suitable lifting point or points.

3. Take ‘competence’ seriously When organising staff training, employers should recognise that four distinct job functions are involved in a safe lift: planning, supervision, operation, and the thorough examination of the equipment. Whilst an individual may fill more than one of these roles, it is important that selection of candidates and training reflects the unique requirements of each one.

To assist in the identification of effective training courses for end users, LEEA runs an Accredited Training Scheme. To achieve accredited status, lEEA member companies must pass a rigorous audit, including criteria such as the qualifications and experience of trainers, the standard of training facilities, and the quality of student assessment.

Particular attention should be paid to lOlER’s requirement that lifting equipment is subject to periodic thorough examination by a competent person. Above all else, employers should appreciate that thorough examination is a specialist task requiring specialist skills. lEEA’s Diploma is long-established as the industry-recognized qualification in this field. furthermore, to help employers ensure that only genuinely competent staff take on the job of thorough examination, lEEA issues ‘TEAM’ identification cards to employees of member companies that hold the Diploma qualification.

4. Don’t overlook small or simple items LOLER demands that all lifting equipment is subject to periodic thorough examination. Typically this includes a wide range of relatively simple and straightforward products such as shackles and eyebolts. In practice, is it all too easy to overlook such items. However, they invariably play a safety-critical role – securing the load throughout the lift. What’s more, they are

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