“Only people I employ drive my machines so I don’t need an engineering inspection. My insurance will cover me if there is an accident.”
A categorical no. This is a very commonly held misconception. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations apply to everyone, whether you are self-employed, an employee or an owner operator. Any item of lifting machinery used on-farm should be inspected by a competent person to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) which includes the condition of the lift rams (including safety check valves); tilt/crowd ram; telescopic ram; hydraulic hoses; safe load indicator; the boom; pins and bushes and boom wear pads, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) which includes the condition of the tyres; footbrake and handbrake operation; steering; cab and/or safety frame; and chassis.
Whilst your insurance may protect you against an accident on-farm, it will be unable to protect you against a prosecution or fine from the HSE. More and more farmers are being asked by the HSE to produce valid inspection certificates, even where the reason for the HSE being on-farm does not originate with the machinery. We receive phone calls from farmers saying that they’ve been given an opportunity to comply or be fined and have recently been called out to two farms in the Shropshire area to carry out urgent inspections at request of the HSE.
A thorough inspection of your lifting machinery can be likened to an MOT and needs to be carried out annually. A thorough examination and a detailed report will in most cases lead to much lower repair costs than if signs of wear or a small fault go undetected. Although most machines need to be inspected annually, it is important to note that man work platforms need to be inspected every 6 months along with the telehandler or forklift used to lift the platform.
By having your machines inspected you are ensuring good housekeeping, giving you peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to safeguard the well being of your employees and defend yourself against the risk of prosecution.