What is the difference between PUWER & LOLER?

If your role includes responsibility for work equipment in the workplace, then you will most likely be bowled over by the amount of legislation and regulations which exist to ensure you keep your work equipment safe (and your organisation avoiding HSE intervention!).

A common question is ‘What is the difference between PUWER & LOLER?’. Both sets of regulations are often referred to together because they do have some overlap. However, it is important to recognise that LOLER only applies to lifting equipment, and PUWER applies to all equipment. This short article explores both regulations, explaining the difference between the two.

PUWER & LOLER are both sets of Health & Safety regulations and their full titles are:

PUWER ’98 - Provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998

LOLER ‘98 - The Lifting equipment and lifting equipment regulations 1998

PUWER covers inspection, installation, maintenance and suitability of work equipment, but LOLER goes a bit further in that it covers extra requirements for lifting equipment too.

What is LOLER ‘98?

LOLER places duties on people and organisations who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment – regardless of whether it is owned by them or not. Its aim is to reduce Health and Safety Risks to people using lifting equipment.

LOLER has its own ACOP (Safe use of lifting equipment: Approved Code of Practice) which falls under section 16 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

LOLER requires that all lifting equipment must be of adequate strength and ability and must have the correct markings to indicate the safe working load for each piece of equipment and if it is specifically used for lifting a person(s).

How often should lifting equipment be inspected?

LOLER sets a maximum timeframe between each interval thoroughly examined—in the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons or an accessory for lifting, at least every 6 months; in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or in either case, in accordance with an examination scheme; and each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the lifting equipment have occurred; and if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations.

Type of equipment 6 months 12 months Examination Scheme
Accessory for lifting Yes Yes
Equipment used to lift people Yes Yes
All other lifting equipment Yes Yes

What is PUWER ’98?

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations places duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

Work equipment is classed as:

  • Machinery
  • Applicance
  • Apparatus
  • tool or installations

As set out in HSE guidance, this also applies to equipment which employees provide for their own use at the workplace. This means it applies to any work equipment including “starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning”.

PUWER ’98 also has its own Approved Code of Practice which is directed to employers, duty holders, managers, supervisors and anyone who has responsibility for the safe use of work equipment. It deals with a wide range of hazardous materials and working practices.

PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use
  • safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
  • used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses

How often should PUWER inspections be carried out?

Regulation 6 of PUWER requires that where the work equipment is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations, it must be inspected at suitable intervals in order for any deterioration to be “detected and remedied within good time”. The findings of these inspections and any resultant actions taken must be recorded until at least the next inspection.

Inspection intervals depend on the equipment type, the associated risks and the particular work environment it is used in as this may cause more rapid deterioration. For example, equipment used outdoors may require more frequent inspection due to weather corrosion factors.

In conclusion, both sets of regulations focus on work equipment, both with their own ACOP but PUWER covers a wider range of work equipment.

Both sets of legislation apply to work equipment and can overlap in some way; depending on what equipment is used and for what purpose. LOLER expands on the requirements under PUWER, to make them more specific to lifting equipment.

Need help with PUWER? Spiers Safety provides a wide range of PUWER training which will get you up to speed on the subject – we are also proud to provide the only PUWER qualification available in the UK.