In Week 1 we looked at Thorough Examination and the latest changes to GN28. This week we look in more detail at LOLER & PUWER.
The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) require that all lifting equipment be subject to a Thorough Examination by a Competent Person at specified intervals. However, The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) also require that the other aspects of machinery are properly inspected by someone with the necessary knowledge and experience.
Some so-called "Thorough" Examinations only cover a fork truck's lifting mechanism, doing the minimum to meet LOLER 98; but duty holders also have an obligation under PUWER 98 to ensure equipment is safe to use, and that requires a much more detailed examination. A truly “thorough” Thorough Examination covers both sets of requirements.
Here we have focussed on counterbalance forklifts, but PUWER & LOLER inspections are mandatory on all material handling equipment with a lifting function, including telehandlers, rough terrain vehicles, man-up trucks, reach trucks, demountable trucks and stackers.
There is a common misconception around examination requirements for hand pallet trucks. In fact, low lift (up to 300 mm raised fork height) pallet trucks, whether manual or powered, require inspections in accordance with PUWER, but are excluded from LOLER.
LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998)
The mast, or telescopic boom on a telehandler, must be inspected throughout its full range of extension and movement. Hydraulic systems should also be carefully checked and tested.
Sudden lift chain failure is potentially lethal. The wear, elongation or corrosion that can cause it can be very gradual and difficult to spot. Careful measurements in at least three places are essential. A change of just 3% means the chain must be replaced and judged whether it is safe and chain anchor points and pulleys also require particular inspection.
The load backrest should be inspected to ensure it is structurally sound and securely mounted otherwise it may cause falling loads and could become a hazard in its own right.
The tilt must move in a controlled, even manner with no signs of damage or scoring. The hydraulic cylinders, hoses and piping are also inspected.
Hydraulic cylinders, reservoirs, hoses and pipes must be checked carefully as sudden loss of pressure can be catastrophic. Filters should be checked for signs of debris and, if there is cause for concern, load handling parts might be subjected to a prolonged load test to rule out unacceptable descent.
Attachments / Side Shift (if fitted)
Permanently fitted attachments and side shifts can be included in the trucks usual Thorough Examination interval. If removable, they must be checked at least twice a year. To ensure safety, they must be free from distortion or cracks, mounted securely, and operable in a smooth, even manner throughout their full movement.
The fork arm carrier must be checked for distortion or cracking, along with the mounting and soundness of any load backrest extension. If a side shift is fitted, it must move in a controlled, even manner.
Fork arms are subject to constant abrasion and stress, making them particularly vulnerable. They must be of the correct capacity and need to be inspected for signs of wear (meeting ISO 5057), cracks, deformation and splaying. This means the fork location and the end stops are also checked.
Clear rating information is critical to the safe operation of any forklift truck. Capacity data plates must be securely attached, legible and have the capacity rating for the truck with any attachments fitted. If the load capacity indicator is fitted, the information should be clearly visible to the operator.
All controls, cables and linkages should be checked for correct operation, corrosion, damage and signs of potential failure. They must be securely mounted, and their function clearly marked.
PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations)
Overhead Guard or Cab
As well as compromising protection from falling loads, a damaged overhead guard or cab can be a clue to potentially lethal structural problems. It must therefore be checked to confirm it is sound and securely mounted. Any transparent screens must be clear and undamaged.
All mechanical and hydraulic components must be inspected for damage, excessive wear and signs of failure or corrosion. A specialist forklift truck engineer will also manoeuvre the truck at low speed to check steering response and operation.
Safety systems can only protect workers if they operate correctly. Any failure can instantly cause serious unsafe practices. All safety systems should be checked to ensure they function properly, including visible and audible warning devices, capacity/data plates and safety interlocks such as seat switches.
Any operator seat restraint should be securely mounted and free from damage.
The mounting must be secure, along with the panel to which it is attached. Any operator restraint (e.g. seat belt) or anti-vibration mounting should be checked for signs of damage.
The prime mover and transmission are checked, along with the exhaust system on IC engine (diesel and LPG) trucks, and battery and connections on electrics trucks.
All service and parking brakes must operate as expected and be able to show this with a slow drive test. Inspection covers hydraulics/ pneumatics, mountings, cables, linkages, pedals, levers and controls.
The chassis should be inspected for signs of damage and cracking in welds.
Wheels & Tyres
Wheels and their assemblies should be in sound condition and securely fixed. Tyres must be checked for specifications, wear, damage and bonding failure. Composite wheels and tyres must be a correct combination, suitable for the truck and application.
The counterweight fastening must be inspected to ensure it is secure and undamaged. Other structural components and mountings, such as for fluid containers, axles and batteries should also be checked.
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