The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has produced new guidance which follows lobbying from Hire Association Europe (HAE), Build UK and International Powered Access Federation (IPAF). Lobbying from industry groups illustrated concerns that it may not be easy or possible to get safety testing certificates renewed while the country is still in partial lockdown.
For cranes and powered access platforms, for example, a Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) inspection must be carried out at specified intervals by a recognised inspector to check equipment is safe for use. Similar certificates are required for other plant equipment, and the latest guidance issued by the HSE also covers these.
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. “The enforcement response in these circumstances will normally be to take no action if the only failing is that thorough examination and testing is not carried out by the required date,” it says.
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.
In the absence of a valid test certificate, the HSE says: “Equipment should only be used outside its test regime if duty holders can demonstrate that it is critical for essential work and can still be operated safely. They must be able to demonstrate that they have made reasonable attempts to have thorough examination and testing carried out, obtained competent advice to produce a thorough assessment of the increased risk and taken appropriate action to manage it.”