Article 281quater of the General Labour Protection Rules: explanations
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Article 281quater: general outlines
Article 281quater of the General Labour Protection Rules provides a derogation, under certain conditions, from Articles 280 and 281 which require commissioning inspections and periodic inspections of lifting equipment.
For foreign lifting equipment, used in Belgium for a period of less than three months, the commissioning or most recent periodic inspection reports drafted by an inspection body in the country of origin of the equipment, are acceptable. In this case, the employer simply needs to use an external service for technical inspections in the workplace (ESTI) for an administrative check of these inspection reports.
Particular attention must be paid to the conditions stated in Article 281quater for the derogation to be valid:
- the country of origin is a Member State of the European Economic Area;
- the device does not remain in Belgium for more than three months at a time;
- the report is drafted by an accredited, approved inspection body or equivalent;
- the report is drafted in one of the three national languages or is accompanied by a translation into one of the three national languages and covers the elements of the inspection stated in Article 280, paragraph 3, a) to d) inclusive.
If these conditions are not met, the derogation is not possible and Articles 280 and 281 must be applied in their entirety: commissioning and periodic inspections by an ESTI, in accordance with the frequency stated in the General Labour Protection Rules.
Objective of Article 281quater
Article 281quater has been added to meet the desire for standardisation in European legislation, avoid duplication of work and allow the free circulation of goods and services.
This article is intended for employers who use foreign lifting and hoisting equipment for a short period in Belgium. Short-term is used here to mean less than three months.
This can be explained as follows:
The assumption is that an inspection has been carried out correctly in the country of origin by an accredited (and therefore competent and independent) body. If the equipment is being used temporarily, it is therefore logical that the foreign inspection is valid.
This means that there is no need for a Belgian ESTI to carry out a new inspection, as this is a duplication of work.
The new article therefore means that for a period of less than three months, the ESTI in question only checks whether the foreign inspection is authentic and has been carried out in accordance with the necessary formal requirements. So it is an "administrative" inspection!!
Some practical examples
If the employer cannot show an inspection report, the derogation set out in Article 281quater of the General Labour Protection Rules does not apply and the commissioning inspection must be carried out by an ESTI, in accordance with Article 280 of the General Labour Protection Rules.
1°) Application on the exemption period
Lifting equipment has been inspected abroad. The frequency of the inspections in the country of origin is every year, and not every three months as it is in Belgium.
The equipment comes to Belgium for a period of less than three months, during the validity period of the foreign inspection. The ESTI only examines the validity and formal requirements of the documents, as mentioned above.
The equipment comes to Belgium for longer than three months, but still during the validity period of the foreign inspection. The exemption period then ends and Article 281 on quarterly inspections therefore applies. This means that a periodic inspection will be carried out by a Belgian ESTI.
The equipment comes to Belgium for a period of less than three months, leaves the country and is reused a few weeks or months later in a different location in Belgium, but still within the validity period of the foreign inspection. The ESTI only performs an "administrative" inspection the second time too.
The device comes to Belgium for a period of less than three months, but the validity period of the foreign inspection expires during these three months. At this point (after the expiry of the foreign inspection), a Belgian ESTI must carry out a periodic inspection in accordance with Article 281. In fact, the foreign inspection no longer provides a "technical guarantee" and as the device is within Belgium, Belgian provisions must be applied.
2°) Application on the content of the inspections
If an inspection is necessary in accordance with Article 281 (see examples 2 and 4 above), what should the inspection involve? This will depend on the content of the previous inspection and indirectly on the frequency of inspections in the country of origin.
Different measures are possible, depending on the latest report (which will contain the contents of the inspections carried out).
If the latest report concerns a commissioning inspection, the next inspection will therefore be a standard periodic inspection (in accordance with Article 281 of the General Labour Protection Rules), and the Belgian schedule will then be followed, with a full detailed inspection one year after the commissioning inspection, where necessary.
If the latest report concerns a periodic inspection, the content of this report must be examined by a Belgian ESTI.
- If the employer can prove that a detailed inspection has taken place within the last 12 months, then the standard periodic inspections should be carried out every three months and a detailed inspection one year after the last detailed inspection.
- If the employer cannot prove that a detailed inspection was carried out within the previous 12 months, he must ensure that a detailed inspection takes place at the end of the three months stipulated in Article 281quater.
However, particular attention must be paid to transformations of the equipment that could modify its characteristics from the point of view of its use. Examples: the assembly of a tower crane, a change in capacity, or the replacement of an important element such as a load limiter. In these cases, Belgian regulations apply and recommissioning inspections must be planned, as stated in Article 280, subparagraph 2 of the General Labour Protection Rules.
What about accessories?
Any mechanism of interest from a safety point of view must be inspected, including cables, chains, hooks, rods, pulleys, hoisting beams, brakes and limit systems. The inspection report must therefore mention the inspection of these mechanisms. If it does not, this is a concrete example that suggests that the safety instructions have not been respected and the last paragraph of Article 281quater applies.
- Firstly, with the prevention advisor of the internal and/or external service for prevention and protection at work.
- Secondly, with the competent regional directorate for Supervision of Well-being at Work.
- Questions on the interpretation of the legislation: in writing to the Directorate-General for Humanisation of Labour.