There are specific regulations that govern lifting operations and lifting equipment. The general principle is that all lifting operations must be assessed to determine the safest means to lift a person or goods. Whenever you need to carry out a lifting operation using lifting equipment you must consider how you will carry this out safely, which will involve selecting the most appropriate lifting equipment for the job and work environment.
The planning of the lift must be carried out by a competent person. It must then be carried out in a safe manner and where necessary appropriately supervised.
The plan must address the risks identified by the risk assessment and propose appropriate control measures. It must cover the selection of appropriate equipment plus its safe use for the particular task. Activities such as routine loading and unloading using a fork lift truck may only need an initial plan which should simply be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is still relevant. More complex lifting operations may require a new plan every time they are carried out. This includes where lifting operations involve two or more pieces of lifting equipment or when the operation cannot take place at a time when the area below it is devoid of people. During such occasions a safe system of work will be put into place which demonstrates how risks will be minimised to anyone below the load. This may identify where barriers will be placed and how persons will be prevented from accessing the area beneath the load during the lifting operation for example.
All plans must be discussed with all those involved in the lifting operation. For larger lifting operations, this may be carried out by virtue of a tool box talk. This is to ensure that everyone involved understands their role in the operation to ensure that the lift is carried out smoothly. Large operations involving the use of a crane for example or use of a fork lift truck in an area where vision is restricted may require the involvement of a banksman, who will watch the load and communicate with the operator to ensure that the lift is picked up or set down safely or that the truck is safely manoeuvred across the workplace.
Once you have determined the safest means to lift a person or goods and developed your plan you are required to execute the manoeuvre safely. This may initially mean making certain changes in the workplace to ensure that the lift can be carried out without incurring additional risks to yourself or others.
It is expected that for larger and more complex moves, more detail and planning should take place. Frequent and more routine moves can be covered in a simple risk assessment, which can be generic in certain circumstances. For complex or unusual tasks, appropriate supervision should also be provided.