Load & Lift standards

As most companies need to lift loads in some way or other, it is important for them to understand the many standards and obligations governing them. Since the late 2000s, load & lift regulations have changed enormously although have stabilized in the last few years.

As a good starting point, here are three definitions:

  • A "machine" is a set of solidly combined mutually linked components one of which moves for a defined purpose. (Article R4311-4-1 of the French Labour Code
  • A "quasi-machine" is a set of components that almost constitutes a machine but cannot by itself perform a defined application. A quasi-machine is only intended to be incorporated into or assembled with other machines or quasi-machines so as to form a machine.
    A "lifting accessory" is a thing, that is not a solid component of the lifting machine, that allows the load to be grabbed.
  • Equipment inspection

Lifting equipment must be periodically inspected at specified intervals by an inspection body, depending on the type of device and use.
In addition to occasional inspections, starting-up ("commissioning") or re-starting-up ("recommissioning") a lifting device or accessory requires an inspection body to perform an "acceptance" check of the equipment by running a static and dynamic test.
The point of this is to prevent accidents in use.

Mandatory certification of a lifting device or accessory: the CE statement!

This is a mandatory document which makes the supplier liable for the design and construction of the device. The supplier states that the device or accessory complies with the applicable standards.
The supplier must submit a CE statement of conformity for the device and display the acronym "CE" on the device.


As its name indicates, load lifting equipment must not be used for lifting people and is strictly prohibited from doing so unless the people-lift is unusable or would cause more injury in an emergency (eg: the only way of rescuing a person in danger is to use a freight elevator).
Equipment must not be used unless "accepted" by the certification body and is periodically inspected as required.
Equipment may be used only if authorized by the employer or if the user holds a CACES operator's permit.

Employer's obligations

  • Train personnel in the use of the lifting equipment and accessories
  • Ensure it is properly "commissioned"
  • Ensure it is periodically inspected as required
  • Supplier's obligations
  • Provide a CE certificate for the machine or a declaration that it is incorporated as a quasi-machine
  • Provide technical documentation
  • Provide installation instructions

Sources INRS and Légifrance

Personnel lifting and safety standards

First we need to define the notion of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as – as the name indicates – a more or less complex system, depending on the application, of protecting and if necessary rescuing a worker.

Article R. 4313-1 of the French Labour Code requires the manufacturer, the importer, and all other persons responsible for marketing a PPE, to prepare and sign a CE statement of conformity attesting that the PPE complies with the technical regulations and that it has successfully passed the applicable certification assessment procedures.

There are many types of PPE including gloves, helmets, glasses as well as, and most importantly, fall-arrest PPE when working at height, which impose three requirements:

  • The user must be equipped with an attachment or holding device (eg: a fall-arrest harness)
  • The holding device must be connected (eg: by a fall-arrest line)
  • To an anchoring system.

This last point calls for some clarification. The anchoring device described in EN 795 may be fixed or mobile (personnel hoisting tripod, for example). There are 5 classes:

  • Class A: Fixed anchor point
  • Class B: Provisional transportable anchor point
  • Class C: Horizontal flexible safety lines (also called lifelines)
  • Class D: Horizontal rigid safety rails
  • Class E: Deadweight anchors

CE marking is mandatory for classes B and E.
For classes A, C and D, the manufacturer must provide a certificate of conformity with respect to EN 795.


Article R. 4323-31 of the French Labour Code clearly states that "persons may be lifted only with equipment and accessories designed and provided for that purpose". The law cannot be clearer on this point, although the next Article (R. 4323-32) provides two exceptions:
"When used to access a workstation or to perform a task when the use of equipment specially designed for lifting persons is technically impossible or exposes the persons to greater workplace risk."
"In an emergency, following a personal risk assessment."


  • Periodic inspections must be performed by qualified and certified staff who may or may not be employees of the company.
  • Depending on the device, the inspection may be simply visual or may include special technical procedures such as checking tightness with a torque wrench.
  • The anchoring device must be checked once a year, and visually each time it is used to check that it is not degraded or used improperly.

Specific to classes C (lifelines) and D (rails): All defects must be repaired as soon as reported. A visual inspection must be made before each use to check the condition of the installation and that it has not been previously used to arrest a fall and, if it has already been used to arrest a fall, it must not be used without being inspected by the person in charge of its maintenance.

Important qualification: For buildings still under construction that in future will require interventions, the client (contracting authority) must modify the project specifications to ensure that all technical features and procedures are included that may be necessary to prevent falls from height.


ATEX standards

ATEX stands for "ATmosphère EXplosive", the French title of the European Directive. It refers to European Directive 94/9/EC on equipment used in ATEX zones and Directive 1999/92/EC on safety of workers in those zones. Both have been transposed into French law. A further Directive (2014/34/EU) implements the ATEX regulations, increasing the responsibility of ATEX material resellers, distributors and other intermediaries. The French legislation comes into effect in April 2016.

Specifically, Directive 1999/92/EC defines a certain number of obligations for employers in terms of ATEX zones:

  • Guidelines on risk prevention
  • Risk assessment
  • Zoning workplaces
  • Document on explosion protection (DRPCE)

Example of codes: EX II 2 GD IIC T4
EX (protect from explosion) II (surface industry) 2 (ATEX appears 10 ≥ 1,000 hrs /yr) GD (Gas & Dust) IIC (identifies the "Gas Group") T4 (maximum temperature at the surface of the lifting device 135°C)

Directive 94/9/EC specifies complex marking attached to the equipment and requires explanation.
It splits equipment into two groups:

  • Group I: Mining equipment
  • Group II: Surface industry equipment

Then Group II is split further into 3 categories depending on length of exposure to the explosive atmosphere.

  • Category 1: According to INERIS, equipment in this category implies that it is present in a zone where an explosive atmosphere exists more than 1,000 hours/year.
  • Category 2: According to INERIS, equipment in this category implies that it is present in a zone where an explosive atmosphere exists between 10 and 1,000 hours/year.
  • Category 3: According to INERIS, equipment in this category implies that it is present in a zone where an explosive atmosphere exists less than 10 hours/year.

Each of these categories refers to two zones for: Gas and Dust:

Category 1 (ATEX present more than 1,000 hrs/yr):

  • Zone 0: for gas
  • Zone 20: for dust

Category 2 (ATEX present between 10 and 1,000 hrs/yr):

  • Zone 1: for gas
  • Zone 21: for dust

Category 3 (ATEX present less than 10 hrs/yr):

  • Zone 2: for gas
  • Zone 22: for dust

For Gas itself, there is a more detailed classification.
It is split into four, based on the reference gas:

  • Group I : Methane (only for Mines)
  • Group IIA : Propane
  • Group IIB : Ethylene
  • Group IIC : Dihydrogen et acetylene

And these groups are associated with maximum permitted surface temperatures per lifting device:T1 : 450°C

T2 : 300°C
T3 : 200°C
T4 : 135°C
T5 : 100°C
T6 : 85°C

These explanations should allow you to decipher any ATEX marking.