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Are you familiar with the health and safety checks that are carried out when you hire vehicles and equipment? Do you carry out your own checks? All hire companies have a duty to manage the health and safety of their equipment, and as an IPAF member, Highway Hire is fully committed to a stringent health and safety procedure.

This article walks you through the visual and functional checks carried out before and after you hire equipment. Construction sites are full of potentially hazardous situations, and with equipment often being left unattended we advise companies to run through this checklist each time machinery is used.

The safety checklist: visual checks

The health and safety checklist is comprehensive and includes both visual and functional areas. The visual checks include the following:

  • Documentation
  • Wheels & tyres
  • Engine & power source
  • Hydraulics
  • Hoses & cables
  • Outriggers & stabilisers
  • Chassis, boom and scissor pack
  • Platform or cage
  • Decals and signage


The first part of the procedure includes making sure there is a current, detailed examination certificate which was issued within the last six months, a manufacturer’s operator manual and a rescue plan should things go wrong. If any of these are missing, they would need to be found or replaced before the hire machinery is used.

Wheels & tyres

The wheels need to have nuts and retainers that aren’t loose, damaged or missing. The tyre pressure must be adequate (pneumatic, foam filled or solid) and the tyres must have no cuts, splits, exposed braiding or damaged rims.

Engine & power source

The engine is visually checked over and the fluid levels are assessed (engine oil, coolant and fuel).  There mustn’t be any fluid leakages on the ground or around the engine. We also check the battery’s electrolyte, security and charging plug condition.


The hydraulic fluid levels are checked for signs of any leaks, including the hoses, pipe connections, rams and cylinders. Any leaks are fixed to a safe state of repair.

Hoses & cables

The security and condition of the hoses and cables are checked for cuts, chafing and bulges. We also look at the power track cable trays to make sure they are free from damage and debris.

Outriggers & stabilisers

If you are hiring machinery with outriggers and stabilisers such as a MEWP, the general condition of these is checked. We also make sure there are appropriate pins and retainers and a safe working footplate. It is also important to make sure the spreader plates are present, in good working condition, and secure for travel and use. We also look at the interlocks to make sure they are functioning and engaged.

Chassis, boom and scissor pack

The general condition of the chassis, boom and scissor pack also form part of the visual checks. If anything is damaged, misaligned or has signs of corrosion, this would be considered a hazard and would be fixed by the Highway Hire team to get it to a safe state before it is released for use.

We also check for cracks in the weld and ensure the pins, retainers, chains, canopies, guards and engine covers are in good order and have no detrimental signs of wear. Should you discover any damage when carrying out your own checks, make sure it is repaired before use or contact the Highway Hire team if you are unsure.

Platform or cage

If the machinery has a platform or cage, the steps are checked for damage and debris. It is important to do this each time the machinery is used, especially if tools or equipment are obstructing the steps and limiting access. The entrance gate is also checked, along with the guard rails and retaining pins.

Decals and signage

The last area which makes up the visual checks includes the ID plate and any safety, warning and information decals. To be regarded as safe, they should be fully legible, both on the machinery itself and the controls. This includes things like the directional arrows on the controls, and the signage about safe platform loads (for example safe working loads, maximum wind speed and maximum number of persons).

The safety checklist: function checks

Once the visual checks are complete, function checks are carried out to ensure the ground and platform controls are in good working order. They include fully checking the following areas:

  • Security of the machinery (power isolator, keypad and smart card)
  • Main engine functions (ignition key, footswitch and hold to run device)
  • Emergency stops and emergency lowering system
  • All switches and function controls (making sure they move freely and do not stick)
  • Lifting functions (ensuring it can raise, lower, slew, tele-out and tele-in)
  • Travel functions (ensuring it can move forward, reverse, steer and brake)
  • Elevated drive speed (reduced or prevented)
  • Lights, beacons and warning devices
  • Alarms (checking the tilt, descent and travel)
  • Limit switches (checking the descent, load, outreach and rotation)
  • Pothole protection device (making sure it fully deploys and retracts)
  • Oscillating axle locks and extending axles
  • Accessories, power to platform and extending decks
  • Jack-legs, stabilisers, outriggers and levelling devices

The “LOLER” test

Together with the visual and function checks that are performed by Highway Hire, all machinery has a regular LOLER inspection and testing. This is like an MOT for lifting equipment, known as the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.

It helps ensure all lifting equipment is fit for purpose, suitably marked and subject to a regular and thorough examination. Records are kept and any defects are logged. Highway Hire is committed to ensuring all of its lifting equipment has had a regular LOLER inspection, along with the checks that are carried out before and after any hire equipment is used.

A summary of the health and safety checklist

Highway Hire actively encourages you to carry out these types of checks before and after using any hire machinery, to make sure it is safe to use. Machinery is often left unattended for long periods and risks or hazards that might not have been present before may cause a problem next time the machinery is used. By hiring machinery from an IPAF member, you can be sure that Highway Hire has a strict health and safety procedure to reduce the chance of any injuries or accidents. However, familiarising yourself with this checklist and carrying out your own checks also reduces this risk and keeps staff safe.

How we can help

Whether you need to hire a MEWP, HIAB or commercial vehicle, Highway Hire will be pleased to discuss your individual business needs in more detail to help you choose the right machinery for the job. If you have already arranged to hire a vehicle and need further assistance with the health and safety checks, call 0845 600 2028 and our friendly and experienced team of advisors will be pleased to help.