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Lifting equipment plays an important part in the efficient and smooth running of a construction site when used safely and according to the relevant health and safety regulations.

Lifting equipment is used to transport large, bulky, or heavy loads from one area to another.

Any person involved in the planning of lifting operations, or operation of lifting equipment has a responsibility to ensure that they carry out their role safely and according to the relevant health and safety regulations.

Accidents or errors during lifting operations could jeopardise the safety of those working on the construction site or cause expensive damage to equipment or materials.

In this article, we will take a look at important tips for using lifting equipment safely.

What are lifting operations?

So, first, it’s important to understand what types of tasks are classed as lifting operations.

All lifting operations are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). According to the LOLER, lifting operations are defined as ‘an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load’. The ‘load’ refers to anything that is being lifted, including items of all shapes and sizes, and even people.

Lifting operations are usually carried out by a crane, forklift, or telescopic handler, but the use of any type of lifting equipment should be done so in accordance with the LOLER.

Some equipment that is commonly used during lifting operations includes:

  • Crane
  • Forklift
  • Telescopic handler
  • Slings.
  • Hoists.
  • Rope and pulley system.
  • Ropes.

The LOLER defines lifting equipment as, ‘work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes its attachments used for anchoring, fixing, or supporting it.’

Lifting operations must be planned carefully and carried out by the lifting team, a group of people who are trained and competent in their role and knowledgeable of lifting operation rules and regulations.

What does a lifting supervisor do?

Within the lifting team, the lifting supervisor plays a key role in ensuring that all lifting operations run smoothly and are carried out safely.

It is the lifting supervisor’s responsibility to help the lifting team to plan and coordinate each lift and then supervise the lifting operation to ensure that it is carried out successfully and safely.

When preparing for and carrying out a lifting operation, some areas that the lifting supervisor is responsible for include:

  • Select the correct type of crane and/or other lifting accessories.
  • Ensure load stability.
  • Plan the load route and speed.
  • Ensure the lifting area is safe and free of hazards.
  • Supervise the crane’s position throughout the lift.
  • Select lifting personnel with relevant training for the operation.
  • Supervise other members of the lifting team during the operation.

Top tips for safe lifting operations on a construction site

Here are our key tips for ensuring that lifting operations are carried out safely and according to industry regulations.

Inspect and maintain equipment

Damaged or deteriorated lifting equipment can pose a significant risk and cause very dangerous accidents. Lifting equipment should be inspected regularly both before and after use to check that it is in a safe condition and does not require any maintenance. All inspections should be recorded and any damage or deterioration to the condition of the equipment should immediately be reported to the relevant person.

Careful planning

All lifting operations should be carefully planned by the lifting team before being carried out. Each lifting operation should be planned by those with relevant competencies, training, and experience. The planning process should always include carrying out a thorough risk assessment to identify any potential hazards and how to overcome them. Some factors that should be considered when planning lifting operations include:

  • The location of the lift.
  • Visibility during the lift.
  • The environment.
  • The most suitable equipment for the lift.
  • Equipment inspections.
  • Attaching and detaching the load safely.
  • The most appropriate personnel for the job.
  • Hazards that may be encountered.

Use appropriate lifting equipment

The most suitable equipment for a lifting operation will depend on several factors including:

  • The environment and terrain.
  • The size and shape of the load being lifted.
  • The weight of the load.
  • How high and how far the load is being moved.

The most appropriate piece of equipment for the job must be selected. The equipment selected for the job must have lifting capabilities that easily surpass the requirements of the job. You can check the equipment’s specifications and capabilities by referring to the manufacturer’s handbook or guide.

Secure the load

One of the biggest risks when moving a load using lifting equipment is that the load falls. An unsecured load could fall and cause serious injury to people below or expensive damage to other equipment or materials on the construction site. The load must be secured by someone who has been trained and is competent in selecting the right equipment and carrying out the task. When attaching the load, force, weight distribution, equipment weight capacity, and different rigging techniques should all be considered. The load is usually secured by the slinger signaller. A safety restraint net may also be attached to restrain the load in case any of the lifting equipment were to fail.


According to the LOLER, all lifting operations must be appropriately supervised. The level of supervision required for a job should be proportionate to the level of risk involved. Whilst everyday or routine lifting operations may not always require direct supervision, any lifting operations that are particularly tricky, hazardous, or involving large or unusual loads benefit from direct supervision to help manage risks. During a lift, a lifting supervisor may help to ensure that the crane maintains a safe position and the load is stable throughout the lift as well as check that the lifting area is free from hazards.

Trained and competent lifting team

Businesses and organisations that own lifting equipment have a responsibility to ensure that the equipment is always used safely and according to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). The personnel that make up the lifting team must have received adequate training and are competent in their roles. Everyone involved in lifting operations should, at minimum, have received thorough training in the rules and regulations surrounding lifting operations and be able to identify potential hazards. Those operating equipment should have received training in how to do so safely. The safest way to ensure that personnel are competent in operating or working with lifting equipment is to ensure that they have passed a relevant professional training course that has been accredited by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) or the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS).

Here at SB Skills, we offer a range of training courses suitable for personnel involved in various roles within the lifting team, including CPCS Slinger/Signaller Training or NPORS Slinger Signaller Training, Appointed Person training (CPCS A61 or NPORS N401), and Crane/Lifting Operations Supervisor training (CPCS A62 or NPORS N405).

Controlling Lifting Operations NVQs

The Level 5 NVQ Controlling Lifting Operations – Planning Lifts is suitable for anyone who undertake the duties of a Lift Planner / Appointed Person, i.e. those responsible for planning the execution and safety of the lifting operation. They will analyse, calculate and specify a procedure and detail the method of executing the lifting operation, confirming both good practice and regulatory requirements are met.

The Level 4 NVQ Controlling Lifting Operations – Supervising Lifts is accessible to supervisors that undertake the duties of a Lift Supervisor / Crane Supervisor. They will work as part of a team to ensure the lifting operations comply with the law and secure the health and safety of employees and of all those affected by the operations.

Why choose SB Skills?

At SB Skills Solutions, our courses can be tailored to an individual’s area of expertise, whether this involves working with cranes, lifting equipment, or plant and machinery. We can also tailor training to your workplace environment.

Our team has more than 30 years of experience delivering training for the construction industry. All our instructors are experienced in the industry and fully accredited.

For more information about our training courses for lifting personnel, give our team a call on 01695 558 420, or email