07 Oct

Getting to grips with safety inspections for lifting equipment in schools, colleges and universities

If you are responsible for health and safety in a school, college or university in the UK, you’ve probably come across LOLER – Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the rules and regulations that apply to lifting equipment.

Inspections for lifting equipment in schools, colleges or universities are a mandatory statutory requirement, so they will definitely feature on your calendar at least once a year.

school dance stuido inspection and testing

Perhaps you are new to the role of Facilities Manager, Caretaker or Site Manager and you need improve your understanding of the regulations. Even if you have years of experience in health and safety, the complexities of LOLER can be easily misunderstood and you might need clarification to ensure your school, college or university is operating within the bounds of UK law.

Hutcheon Examination Services Limited (HESL) provides professional LOLER examination services and we want to share our expertise with you to help make your site safer and your job easier, so let’s get back to basics…

What is LOLER?

LOLER (The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) is defined by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) as follows:

“LOLER regulations place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. This includes all businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment, whether owned by them or not.”

“In most cases, lifting equipment is also work equipment so the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) will also apply (including inspection and maintenance).”

Founded in 2004, HESL has vast experience of LOLER and PUWER examinations in educational settings.

Which equipment is covered by LOLER?

As stated above, it’s important to remember that LOLER applies to lifting equipment that is hired by the school, college or university you work for, as well as what it owns.

Within a school, college or university setting, there may be equipment that’s not commonly or traditionally associated with lifting or lowering loads.

LOLER doesn’t just apply to more general equipment on site such as goods and passenger lifts, it applies to specific apparatus and machinery used on courses, too.

'Lifting equipment' includes any work equipment used by staff and/or students in your school, college or university for lifting and lowering loads, such as:

  • Cranes
  • Lift trucks
  • Hoists
  • Elevating access or work platforms
  • Tractor front-end loaders
  • Stair lifts
  • Passenger/goods lifts
  • Platform lifts
  • Vehicle tail lifts
  • Lifting accessories such as ropes, chains, sling shackles, and eye bolts
  • Any attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting the equipment
  • PPE equipment

Automotive, construction, arboriculture, care, theatre and drama, sciences, animal management and engineering are just some of the courses that might utilise lifting equipment subject to LOLER regulations.

Rest assured, all HESL engineer surveyors have the appropriate engineering qualifications to ensure the safety of a wide range of lifting equipment used in schools and colleges.

We are an ISO 90001:2015 accredited organisation and all our engineers are also DBS-checked.

Why is regular inspection of lifting equipment so important?

Every time an object or person is lifted and lowered there is a potential risk from mechanical failure, collapse of the equipment/components, and the person operating or using the lifting equipment falling or being struck. The outcome of such scenarios can be tragic, and every school, college or university has a duty of care to students, staff and visitors to ensure equipment is safe to be used.

Failure of any load-bearing part of any lifting equipment is reportable to the Health and Safety Executive as a Dangerous Occurrence under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (2013) (RIDDOR).

Significant damage to property can also be caused by defective lifting equipment. Not only will this cost your school, college or university a lot of money, but it could also potentially disrupt the education of students at a time when they have already experienced disturbed studies due to the pandemic. The future reputation of your organisation could be negatively affected and even at the worst event lead to possible prosecution.

Regular inspection also helps to deliver optimum performance and prolong the lifespan of lifting equipment, so your school, college or university gets the most out of the investment it has made.

You can trust HESL not to cut corners when examining lifting equipment in your school/college. Our engineer surveyors don’t work to timed targets – they always put quality before quantity.

Statutory inspections and your insurance & the HSE

If your statutory inspections are out of date or do not even exist and there was an accident on your premises, you may find that this failure of compliance could mean that your insurance is invalid.

If the Health & Safety Executive is involved and your organisation was found to be in material breach of the health & Safety law, this could also result in costly fines for the Fee For Intervention.

When should lifting equipment in school, college or university be inspected?

LOLER states that the frequency of inspection depends on the type of equipment within an educational establishment. Installation, levels of usage, historical factors and storage conditions must also be considered.

Thorough examinations must be carried out by a competent person:

  • Before equipment is taken into service
  • Following installation, where safety is dependent on correct installation
  • After an incident or malfunction
  • When the equipment hasn’t been used for a long period
  • Due to rapid wear from heavy usage
  • Periodically where lifting equipment is exposed to conditions which may cause deterioration which could lead to a dangerous situation
  • If tampering is suspected

According to LOLER, the periods between routine thorough examinations should be every:

  • 6 months for passenger lifts and other lifting equipment which lifts persons
  • 6 months for lifting accessories
  • 12 months for all other lifting equipment

For PSSR (compressed air) examinations are at the discretion of the competent person in accordance with a written scheme

HESL use visual tagging, such as a colour-coded ties and stickers. These are applied to each piece of equipment following examination and are an instant way of identifying equipment that is safe to use. This is an instant indication that the equipment is in statutory compliance.

If you choose HESL to carry out LOLER inspections in your school, college or university, we will send you reminders so that checks can be carried out in a timely manner, flagging up any repairs that might be needed in plenty of time to get them fixed. Going overdue could result in an incident, interrupted teaching, a breach of legal obligations, and a fine or prosecution.

Remember, your insurance could also be invalidated if you fail to comply with LOLER inspections before the due date.

Our friendly administration team will get the inspection booked in at a convenient time, non-term time if needed. We want to make staying safe and compliant as hassle-free as possible, with minimal disruption to your teaching timetable.

Who should carry out the LOLER examination?

LOLER testing must be performed by what is known officially as a ‘competent person’. This means someone qualified to perform the examination properly, such as a HESL Engineer Surveyor who will have all the required training, as well as ample knowledge and experience.

The inspection should be done by an independent third party, ideally not a member of your organisation, because it must be objective and impartial.

A HESL engineer surveyor can carry out the checks, identifying damage and faults which could affect the safe operation of the lifting equipment or accessories. HESL will provide you with a full report and best advice on any action that needs to be taken.

Each piece of inspected equipment must be appropriately marked, and records of each examination must be kept, with any defects being reported to the person responsible for the equipment and the relevant enforcing authority (usually the local authority).

Records must be kept by the person responsible for the lifting equipment as follows:

  • New installation (other than of lifting accessories) - for so long as the equipment is kept, or until its location changes (when it should be inspected again)
  • EC declaration of conformity certificates and any certificates supplied by the manufacturer. These need to be available if the equipment is kept or sold on and provided to the purchaser.
  • Routine thorough examinations reports of all lifting equipment - for at least 2 years, or until the next report, whichever is longer

Helping schools, colleges and universities stay LOLER compliant

HESL currently offers LOLER examination services across Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, North / South / West London and surrounding areas. Even if your area isn't listed, please feel free to contact us and we'll be able to provide a quote.

We also offer additional inspection services for CoSHH, local exhaust ventilation, PSSR compressed systems & oxy-fuel systems.

We manage the whole inspection process, including due date reminders and planning, booking inspections and reports. Count on us to help you keep on top of LOLER regulations and ensure you are always fully compliant - and keep your site safe for all who study and work there.

To talk to us about your LOLER examination requirements, call 0118 981 1773 or email

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I have had the pleasure of working alongside Hutcheon Examination Services for over a year now and I cannot fault their high end quality of work and professional attitude all mixed in with the personal time business approach to customer satisfaction. I have regular dealings with both Suzanne and Claire and my queries are always dealt with swiftly and efficiently. I know that I can rely on the admin team to ensure that the inspections are carried out within a timely manner and that we maintain compliance of our stock. I have also dealt with Peter and Lynne and every time an issue needs resolving, they have not disappointed. The feedback we have received from our residents is that the engineers are both friendly and informative about what they are doing. I would not hesitate in recommending HESL to any organisation. Thanks Team!
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