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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

by Penny Hydraulics

Lifting equipment glossary: terms you need to know

In the lifting equipment industry, there are quite a lot of specialist terms and abbreviations that you might need to research to fully understand.

Often, these phrases will refer to something that you need to know. From safety regulations to providing information about a certain model, it's important that you're able to quickly identify their meaning so you can make the right decision when in the market for new lifting equipment.

To help you out, we've put together a detailed glossary to help you get to grips with some of the industry language. Read on to find out more.

We will cover:

Abnormal operating conditions

Abnormal operating conditions are any conditions that cause lifting equipment to operate unfavourably or risk damage. Examples include extreme temperatures or environments that can cause corrosion.

Bed (of vehicle)

The bed is the part of a vehicle (usually a truck) that offers storage space or room for another function. An example is a flatbed truck, which has a level bed at the rear that offers easy access for loading and unloading cargo.


A boom is part of the arm of a crane that can be adjusted to increase and decrease its reach horizontally. It's usually operated from a control panel or remote control.

Competent person

A competent person is someone who has the right amount of training, knowledge, and experience to assist with health and safety in the workplace. They play an essential role in keeping staff safe by supervising and carrying out regular equipment checks. Competence is required by LOLER, PUWER, and the Work at Height Regulations.

Computer-aided design (CAD)

Computer-aided design (CAD) is a type of programme used to model a project on-screen, where it can be analysed and modified to create the highest-quality design before it is manufactured.

At Penny Hydraulics, we use CAD with all of our products to generate the most suitable and efficient bespoke products for our clients. Find out more about our design process.

CE Marking

CE Marking is the symbol used to show that a product conforms with EU health and safety standards. Every type of machinery, including lifting equipment, must carry this marking as defined by the European Union's Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Every Penny Hydraulic product carries this marking.

Contact suspension unit

A contact suspension unit is an automatic system used with advanced lighting winches that locks a lighting fixture into its operating position and reconnects the circuitry when it is lowered and raised.

Davit crane

A davit crane is a portable, freestanding crane that can be set up in locations where a vehicle-mounted option is not practical. They can be set up to hoist and lower a load, and are particularly useful for below-ground handling with hatches or wells.

Electronic capacity indicator (ECI)

An electronic capacity indicator (ECI) is an advanced load sensor that can give the user of a crane an instant, accurate reading of how close it is to reaching its maximum load. This can encourage safe operation and help to prolong crane lifespan.

Goods lift

A goods lift is a type of lifting equipment that can help to transport objects between different levels of a building. They consist of a platform (often combined with a cage), which can be loaded, and a powered pulley system.

There are a few different types of goods lift: a mezzanine floor lift can be used to move goods between multiple floors, a cellar lift transports a load between a cellar and the floor above, a loading bay lift makes easy work of raising cargo up into vehicles, and a light well lift can provide access between floors when there isn't much space.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the main piece of legislation that covers all of occupational health and safety in the UK. Businesses that operate lifting equipment need to pay attention to LOLER, PUWER, and the Work at Height Regulations , which come under the act.


The hydraulics of a piece of lifting equipment refers to the fluid-pressure system used to move the parts and exert force on a load. Machinery like cranes and lifts use internal hoses, cylinders, and motors to power the raising, lowering, and other movement of their cargo.


LOLER stands for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, which is legislation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that requires any business whose employees operate lifting equipment to abide by a specific set of rules. These include properly planning all lifting operations and making sure lifting equipment is regularly examined to make sure it is fit for purpose.

For more information, read our guide: LOLER explained.

Lighting winch systems

A lighting winch system is a type of lifting equipment that allows for lighting to be lowered and raised. This provides easy access for repairs and maintenance, removing the need for someone to have to work at height. Lighting winches come in various shapes and sizes, including chandelier winches, high mast lighting winches, and high bay lighting winches.

Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC

Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is the EU legislation that sets the bar for health and safety requirements in new machinery products across the European market. Through a combination of mandatory health and safety requirements and voluntary harmonised standards, the directive makes sure that any equipment sold is of sufficient quality and undergoes rigorous testing.

Manual handling

Manual handling is when a load is transported or supported using the hands or body. This can include actions like lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying, or moving. Manual handling in the workplace is controlled by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, which is the UK legislation for this area of health and safety. One of the best ways of minimising the need for manual handling is by introducing measures to allow for mechanical handling.

Maximum authorised mass (MAM)

Maximum authorised mass (MAM) — sometimes known as gross vehicle weight — is the weight limit for a vehicle or trailer when it has been loaded to its maximum capacity. This represents the weight, as defined by the manufacturer, that can safely be used on the road. This figure is usually listed in the owner's manual or on the vehicle's chassis plate. This is an important limit to bear in mind when having any vehicle-mounted equipment installed.

Mechanical handling

Mechanical handling is when a load is transported or supported with the aid of equipment or machinery, rather than just the body (manual handling). The tools used to ease the burden can range from wheelbarrows and pallet trucks to mounted cranes and lifting platforms. These methods are often employed when there is a greater risk of injury due to a heavy or awkward load that can't be moved by hand. They can also greatly improve productivity for faster turnaround times.

Proportional controls

A proportional control is a type of control used with lifting equipment. It provides advanced movement options that are more accurate than other types of control. These controls are a recent innovation on smaller cranes, and they help to ensure precise movement for greater safety and productivity.


PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which is legislation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 that requires any business that makes use of equipment to ensure it is safe to use at all times. It provides guidance in a number of areas, including: keeping equipment in good working order, establishing maintenance logs, providing training to staff, and preventing and controlling risks in the workplace.

Though not a legal requirement, following the guidelines set out by PUWER will ensure that the law is obeyed when it comes to work equipment and machinery. For further details, be sure to read our guide: PUWER in a nutshell.


Slewing is the horizontal motion of a crane's boom , which allows the load to be moved from side to side. As a crane is attached to a fixed axis, they can slew in a rotational motion to deliver an object to another position nearby if required.

Stabiliser pad

Stabiliser pads — also known as outrigger pads — are extensions that can be attached to the base of a crane to give it extra stability when in use. The pads are attached to arms which fold out and brace themselves against the ground. They are sometimes used with vehicle-mounted cranes when there is a heavy load being moved and there is a risk of the vehicle tipping.

Thorough Examination

A Thorough Examination is an essential inspection of lifting equipment to make sure it is in full working order, as set out by the LOLER regulations . The exam must be carried out at specified intervals by a competent person , who then writes up a report of their findings. You can find out more about undertaking a Thorough Examination in our LOLER explained guide.

Tyre press

A tyre press — sometimes known as a tyre changer — is a machine used to mount and dismount tyres onto the rims of wheels. In a business where are a number of heavy-duty industrial vehicles on-site, it can be beneficial to have a tyre press on hand to deal with maintenance to quicken turnaround and keep downtime to a minimum. These machines are available in both mobile and static models.

Unladen weight

The unladen weight of a vehicle or trailer is how much it weighs when it is not loaded with cargo, passengers, fuel, or other items. It includes all parts that are used when on the road. This figure can be helpful when working out what type of mounted lifting equipment to have installed on a vehicle.

Vehicle-mounted crane

A vehicle-mounted crane is a piece of hydraulic machinery that can lift and move a load onto and off a vehicle. Some models can also be used for external tasks adjacent to the vehicle, such as lifting manhole covers or moving a heavy object. They are one option for businesses looking to reduce the need for manual handling and reduce the associated risks for their staff.

Van-mounted cranes are models that can be installed at the rear or side access doors of a van, where they provide a flexible lifting solution. They usually fold up into the interior, so most incorporate a space-saving design. Flatbed-mounted cranes are positioned on the flatbed area of a truck or trailer, where they can be used for loading and unloading cargo.

Vehicle-mounted loading platform

A vehicle-mounted loading platform is a piece of hydraulic machinery that can be fitted to a car, van, truck or lorry to make it easier to load cargo on and off, reducing the need for manual handling and lowering risk of injury.

One type is rear-mounted loading platforms, which can be installed at the rear access of a vehicle. These can easily handle cargo like containers, drums, and trolleys. Another type is side-mounted loading platforms, which can provide mechanical handling for access points at the side of a vehicle.

Wander lead

A wander lead is a length of cable attaching a remote control to machinery, which allows some freedom of movement, but not as much as a wireless control.

Wireless control

A wireless control is a machinery controller that is completely free of wires and therefore allows for complete freedom of movement. They allow for much greater flexibility on the job when compared to static controls, as the user is free to adopt the position with the best view.

Work at Height Regulations 2005

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is a set of rules set out by the government under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which dictates how companies who undertake work at height need to plan and carry out each job. They apply to any employer and anyone who controls work at height, which is defined as any work where there is a risk of someone falling from one level to another.

As part of the Regulations, employers are required to avoid work at height where possible, and if not, eliminate or reduce the risks. One of the best ways to either eliminate or reduce risk is to use mechanical lifting equipment to cut out the need to climb up to areas of height.

For more information, be sure to read our working at height guide.

Working load limit (WLL)

The working load limit (WLL) is a measurement used by lifting equipment manufacturers to represent the safe force that the machinery can handle on the job. This figure does not represent the force required for the equipment to fail or yield, instead it is calculated to fall short of that amount for safety reasons. This is worked out by dividing the actual breaking strength by a safety factor to give the WLL.

This glossary contains many of the lifting equipment terms you might come across and need to research, and we hope it helps you to make a more informed decision about what type of machinery is right for your business.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any other lifting equipment matters, please don't hesitate to  get in touch with our team.

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