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How 'Thorough' is your farm machinery inspection?

03 April 2024

IF YOUR farm uses lifting equipment, as the owner/employer you’re legally required to arrange a LOLER inspection at least once a year to ensure the lifting components (forks, boom, mast, chains etc) are safe and fit for purpose. But it doesn’t end there.

HSE recommends that a PUWER inspection should be carried out at the same time (checking brakes, steering, safety systems etc).  Yet far too often inspections cover only the LOLER half of a Thorough Examination – in which case you’ll need to organise PUWER inspections yourself and keep all relevant records.  

Geoff Martin, chairman of leading accrediting body CFTS poses the question: “Why do so many farmers still stick with LOLER only inspections?   

“In conversations with them, most admit it’s purely down to convenience. But there are compelling reasons why it can be done better and cheaper by a CFTS-accredited service provider. Here are just a few of them:  

  1. Service providers accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme are specialist is maintaining and repairing agricultural and industrial equipment. This gives them the practical knowledge and experience to interpret any results in the context of your particular circumstances, ensuring remedial work is undertaken only when its most appropriate.  
  2. CFTS-accredited providers are unique in working to a rigorous, nationally accredited scheme covering the requirements of both LOLER and PUWER. Importantly, they are alone in using a checklist specifically for any attachments you may be using.  
  3. The CFTS Thorough Examination scheme is independently audited and quality-controlled so you can rest assured of the highest standards and full compliance with HSE guidelines (unlike some schemes which are self-certified). 
  4. Your work can continue with a minimum of disruption because CFTS-accredited examiners are time served and fully trained engineers who can often remedy any defects at the end of the inspection.  
  5. CFTS-accredited Thorough Examinations are not only more comprehensive, they can also be lower in price. In a recent price comparison exercise, costs quoted by an inspection only company were up to 62% higher than for a CFTS-accredited examination. 

You as the user have the right to choose your own examiner 

"There are still quite a few misconceptions among end users surrounding the mandatory inspection of workplace machinery. The first is that it must be carried out by the engineer surveyor as recommended by the insurers. That isn’t the case and employers/those responsible for the equipment are free to find the best inspection to protect their colleagues... and their own interests," Martin continues.  

“The other area of confusion comes to terminology and what needs to be covered. A LOLER is not necessarily the same as a proper Thorough Examination because it often only covers the lifting components. It’s vital to ensure that under PUWER the steering, brakes and safety systems are also inspected and that takes time. If your current inspection only lasts 30 minutes or less, you aren’t getting a fully comprehensive Thorough Examination and you may not be complying with the law.”  

To see what needs to be inspected on your equipment and how often, visit www.thoroughexamination.org