“The Provision and use of Work Equipment (PUWER) Regulations” 1998 requires employers to provide equipment that is suitable for its intended task and carry out risk assessments to ensure the safety of equipment with the aim of not putting users at risk.
The regulations are far reaching and define work equipment as “any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not).”
The original PUWER regulations came into force in 1992 and were revised in 1998 whereby mobile work equipment also came under the regulations.
The general duties of PUWER are detailed below:
- All provided equipment must be suitable for intended use.
- All “installations” whether after assembly at a new site or location, before being put into use for the first time require a documented inspection to ensure that the “installation” has been installed correctly and is safe to operate.
- In addition future inspections must be scheduled to ensure future safe use of the equipment.
- Equipment must be maintained in an efficient state (good working order and state of repair)
- Maintenance must be planned and logs kept to record the activity
- Employers must provide adequate instruction/ training to the users of the equipment – where warranted, they must also provide written instruction highlighting conditions of use and outlining any abnormal conditions that may warrant secondary inspections in addition to those already scheduled.
- Where the use of equipment carries a specific risk, it must be restricted to specially trained users.
- Training records must be kept for all demonstrating competence in the use of the machinery/ equipment
- All equipment must comply with the regulations, implementing EU directives (emergency stop buttons etc) and if purchased after 1994 they must carry the CE marking.
- The regulations also stipulate that it is an offence for equipment to leave an employer without the latest physical inspection documentation or to be used by another employer unless it obtained with previous physical documented evidence of inspection.
What type of equipment does PUWER cover?
PUWER covers any equipment used by an employee at work such as screwdrivers, hammers, spanners, ladders, drilling machinery, saws, photocopiers, lifting equipment and motorised vehicles etc. PUWER also covers equipment that employees’ personally provide for work
PUWER covers equipment overall use and includes:
- Starting and stopping of the equipment
- Transportation of the equipment.
Who does PUWER apply to?
YOU – If you are an employer or you are self employed and you provide equipment to be used at work
YOU must ensure that:
Suitable for use
- fit for purpose
- intended for conditions of use
- in a safe condition
- ensuring that peoples health and safety not at risk
Inspected by a competent person and documented
- When installed
- When moved
- If exposed to abnormal conditions
Risks are eliminated and or controlled by providing:
- suitable guards
- protection devices
- warning devices
- system control devices i.e. emergency stop buttons
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- safe working practices (Standard Operating Procedures – SOP’s)
- adequate training in operation and maintenance of equipment
In addition to the general requirements set down in PUWER, Part III of the 1998 revision includes specific duties with regards to mobile equipment. Mobile equipment that is used to carry people must have been specifically designed to do so, and measures should have been put into place to prevent / reduce risk, for example, from a fork lift rolling over and injuring the driver and anyone else.
In part IV of PUWER, there is a requirement with regard to the use of power presses. PUWER states that power presses must have a guard or protection device and this should be inspected by a competent person and a record of the inspection should be kept.
Who enforces PUWER?
Health and Safety Inspectors are responsible for enforcing PUWER; if you or your organisation has responsibilities under PUWER, you should act now. The health and safety inspector has the power to issue fines, temporarily/ permanently shut down operations and or even bring legal action for non compliance.
PUWER 1998 aims to protect workers from injuries received through the use of work equipment. Below are some examples of dangerous work equipment, potential issue and the potential outcome(s).
|Equipment/ Tools(s)||Potential Issue||Potential outcome|
|Hand Screwdriver, handsaw, knives etc||Badly designed||Strained wrists, carpal tunnel syndrome|
|Air Powered Machine Tool||No fail safe cut out||Injury to user|
|Power Tools/ Machine tools||Unguarded||Injury to user – entanglement,shearing, crushing, trapping or cutting|
|Work Station||Badly Designed||neck, back and shoulder pain and or RSI|
|Photocopiers||Not Regularly Maintained||Emissions|
|Mobile Lift||No clear instruction therefore used for lifting items in excess of maximum load||Topple over and cause injury|