The main requirements of PUWER are for an organisation to ensure that equipment used is suitable for the purpose, maintained to be safe, not a risk to the health and safety of the user (or anybody else) and inspected by a competent person who should record the results.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) apply to anyone who owns, operates or controls work equipment.
Employers are required to properly install, inspect, and maintain equipment to ensure safety in the workplace. Further, users of the equipment are to receive appropriate training and use the equipment as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
PUWER and its requirements apply to all personnel including employers, employees, contractors, and suppliers, irrespective of whether they are full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal workers.
Furthermore, the Regulations apply to all types of equipment and industries, whether you work in a factory, on a construction site, an office, in retail, the care industry, or practically any industry you’d like to think of.
The regulations also apply equally to equipment that is owned or hired by a company.
Irrespective of where your work equipment has originated from, the person in your workplace who provides it (such as the employer or responsible person) must ensure that it meets the required standards to be introduced into the work place, and it is suitable and safe before first use.
Further to this, the regulations apply to any type of activity involving equipment.
Typically, this includes any starting and stopping procedures, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, maintaining, and cleaning. This means there is also a duty to ensure equipment meets appropriate and suitable standards before even attempting to operate the equipment.
Introduction to PUWER
The Puwer regulations (1998) as ammended in 2002 and 2013 were introduced under the Health and Safety at Work Act and fall under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which specifically relates to risk assessments.
The primary aim is to ensure that work equipment regardless of its age or origin can be used safely without risk to health or safety to the user, or anybody in the vicinity that might be affected by its use.
There are some exceptions that require a more in depth set of regulations and ACOPs. These include woodworking equipment and power presses for example.
The requirements of PUWER that are relevant to woodworking equipment are set out under the Safe Use of Woodworking Machinery Approved Code of Practice, whereas power presses also have there own ACOP.
Definitions of Equipment Under PUWER
The definition of work equipment as far as PUWER is concerned means any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation that has been issued for use to carry out a job or a task in the workplace.
The definition of carrying out a job or task involving work equipment includes starting, stopping, setting, programming, transporting, modifying, maintaining, cleaning and servicing.
Duty Holders – Regulation 3
Under PUWER the following people, or groups of people have duties placed upon them.
- The Self Employed
- People Who Have Control of Equipment. (For example a plant hire company)
The duty also applies to shared buildings where there are common areas, and this would include business parks, trading estates, hostels, sheltered accommodation, hotels etc, but not to private work in private dwellings.
Suitability of Work Equipment – Regulation 4
When assessing the suitability of work equipment the employer also has to consider the conditions that the equipment is to be used in, including wet, hot or cold conditions.
Is it suitable and the safest option for the job in hand, but is it also suitable for the conditions it’s being used in?
For example, there are many fine and powerful 240volt tools on the market, but if the work is predominantly outside or under harsh conditions such as a building site or a refurbishment project with other contractors then it’s not suitable and other options must be considered, such as 110v or battery operated.
- Therefore, the selection of work equipment must take into account the following and has:-
- to be constructed or adapted so that it is suitable for its purpose.
- has to be selected with the conditions of use and the user’s health and safety in mind.
- may only be used for operations and under conditions which it is suitable for.
Maintenance of Equipment – Regulation 5
The requirements for maintenance of work equipment involves three criteria.
- To maintain in an efficient state.
- To maintain in efficient working order.
- To maintain in good repair.
In addition, where there are maintenance logs then they must be kept up to date.
In many cases this will require routine and planned maintenance of work equipment with priority given to:-
- Operating efficiency and performance.
- The general condition of the equipment.
Inspection of Equipment – Regulation 6
Where the safety of work equipment depends on its conditions, it must be inspected:-
- After installation and before being put into service for the first time.
- After being relocated.
- To ensure it has been installed correctly and is safe to operate.
Inspections must be carried out by a competent person which may vary from a simple regular visual inspection, to a more comprehensive inspection that might require the removal of parts.
However, an inspection must be recorded and contain sufficient information to properly identify the equipment, its normal location, dates of inspection, any faults found, action taken, who carried out the inspection, when repairs were made, date of next inspection.
Lastly, if an employer sells or passes on a piece of equipment then it must be accompanied by physical evidence that the last inspection has been carried out.
Specific risks – Regulation 7
Where specific risks or hazards are involved with work equipment, then its use must be restricted to those persons given the specific task of using it. Similarly, repairs must be restricted to designated persons who are properly trained to fulfill there designated task.
The Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) requires that hazards are controlled using a hierarchy of control measures starting with elimination of the hazard where possible.
If this cannot be achieved, then hard measures must be considered such as gates and barriers to prevent access.
The last consideration is soft tactics such as safe systems of work.
Information, Instruction and Training – Regulations 8 & 9
Persons who use work equipment must have suitable and sufficient training including:-
- Health and Safety Information.
- Written instruction where appropriate to refer to
- Training in methods that should be adopted for safe use of the equipment, and for any precautions that should be taken to reduce risks.
Supervisors should also receive information, instruction and training, and special consideration should be given to supervising young persons using any equipment (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations).
All health and safety training and instruction should be within working hours and paid.
This article does not cover every regulation under PUWER, but aims to introduce the small and new business owner to the most common elements of the regulation.
The entire version can be obtained in a downloadable pdf HERE
The rest of the regulation covers.
Conformity with Community Requirements – Regulation 10
Dangerous Parts of Machinery – Regulation 11
Protection Against Specified Hazards – Regulation 12
High or Very Low Temperature – Regulation 13
Controls – Regulation 14 -18
Isolation From Sources of Energy – Regulation 19
Stability – Regulation 20
Lighting – Regulation 21
Maintenance Operations – Regulation 22
Markings and Warnings – Regulation 23 and 24
Mobile Work Equipment – Regulations 25-30
Power Presses – Regulations 31-35 (See Power Press ACoP)
The Health and Safety Today Knowledge Base contains the full HSE downloadable fact sheet detailing all the above and more.
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