The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 apply to all employers and the self-employed who provide equipment for use at work, and ensuring they continue to be suitable and safe for use.
What equipment is covered by the Regulations?
Any equipment which is used by an employee at work is covered, for example hammers, knives, ladders, drilling machines, power presses, circular saws, photocopiers, lifting equipment (including lifts), dumper trucks and motor vehicles. For the purposes of PAT; all portable appliances provided, are covered by the regulations including for example computers, televisions, kettles, power tools, kitchen equipment, etc.
Personal equipment brought into work by employees is also covered by PUWER so you will need to make sure it complies too.
Examples of uses of equipment which are covered by the Regulations include starting or stopping the equipment, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, cleaning and transporting.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
If you are an employer or self-employed person and you provide equipment for use at work, or if you have control of the use of equipment, then the Regulations will apply to you.
They do not apply to equipment used by the public, for example compressed-air equipment used in a garage forecourt. However, such circumstances are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act).
The Regulations cover workplaces where the HSW Act applies – this includes factories, offshore installations, offices, shops, hospitals, hotels, places of entertainment etc. PUWER also applies in common parts of shared buildings and temporary places of work such as construction sites.
While the Regulations cover equipment used by people working from home, they do not apply to domestic work in a private household.
What do the Regulations require me to do?
You must ensure that the work equipment you provide meets the requirements of PUWER. You should ensure that it is:
- suitable for use, and for the purpose and conditions in which it is to be used; maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk; and inspected*, in certain circumstances, to ensure that it is and continues to be safe for use. Any inspection* should be carried out by a competent person and a record kept until the next inspection. You should also ensure that risks created by using the equipment are eliminated where possible or controlled as far as reasonably practicable by:
- taking appropriate ‘hardware’ measures, eg providing suitable guards, protection devices, markings and warning devices, system control devices (such as emergency stop buttons) and personal protective equipment; and
- taking appropriate ‘software’ measures such as following safe systems of work (eg ensuring maintenance is only performed when equipment is shut down etc), and providing adequate information, instruction and training about the specific equipment.
A combination of these measures may be necessary depending on the requirements of the work, your assessment of the risks involved, and the practicability of such measures.
*Inspection – this is referring to the inspection and testing of electrical appliances; work equipment that is portable and electric requires portable appliance testing.