Lifting your business out of trouble
I came across a distressing case concerning an elderly woman who slipped out of a patient hoist when being lifted out of a bath and subsequently (and tragically) succumbed to her injuries. The case is of particular concern to me because I learnt that the Care Assistant operating the patient hoist had not been adequately trained in the process and the level of risk assessments were considered inadequate.
Unsurprisingly the operator of a care home was fined £90,000.
It is crucial that companies operating lifting equipment ensure appropriate and adequate training for any staff member operating and responsible for the equipment. By definition, lifting equipment includes any equipment used at work for lifting or lowering loads (both goods and people).
This expectation is made regulation by a number of legislations and legal duties, including:
- The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER): specifically the selection, use and operation of lifting equipment.
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER): apply to all work equipment including that used for lifting.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR): impose duties to carry out risk assessments.
- Section 2 of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA): requires all employers to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees.
- Section 3 of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA): requires all employers to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety of those who are not employees but may be affected by the employers work activity.
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 relating to personal protective equipment required to be used to avoid risks.
Advice relating to this issue is fairly straightforward: all employers must ensure that lifting equipment is not used to move loads heavier than the specified safe working load, that staff are adequately trained and supervised in using the equipment and that there is a planned inspection, maintenance and pre-use check schedule in place. A risk assessment for properly planned activities with associated method statement and safe system of work should be observed by competent operatives.
Following this advice will help avoid injuries – or worse – to your workforce and those under your duty of care. No one wants to repeat a similar experience to that of the care home and the families involved.