Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

1.  Introduction

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), which came into force in December 1998, replace previous Regulations of the same name.  These Regulations continue to amplify and make explicit the legal duties to provide safe work equipment and aim to ensure that the use of work equipment is carried out in a safe way.  Numerous legislative provisions which may have been relevant to departments in the past have been repealed.  Examples are the machinery guarding requirements in the Factories Act 1961, the Abrasive Wheel Regulations 1970 and the Woodworking Machines Regulations 1974.

The definition of work equipment is wide and includes machinery, apparatus, equipment, installations and tools.  Therefore items as diverse as tractors, photocopiers, laboratory equipment and apparatus, soldering irons and scalpels are covered.  Installations are included for the first time and therefore scaffolding, access equipment and safety devices etc are covered.  Examples of items which are not work equipment are livestock, substances, structural items (walls, stairs, roofs etc) and private motor vehicles.

The Regulations contain general duties, specific duties and additional duties concerning mobile work equipment.  The last are contained in the Appendix to this policy.

All work equipment has to meet all of the requirements of the new Regulations except that for existing mobile work equipment, such as equipment moved on wheels, tracks or rollers, the provisions described in the Appendix do not come into force until December 2002.

2.  General duties

(a)  Work equipment must be selected which is suitable, by design, construction or adaption, for its intended purpose in its particular place of use (perhaps it might be used in a high risk area such as in a flammable atmosphere or in wet conditions) and it must be suitable for the process and conditions of use.

Risk assessments, carried out by departments in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 and concerning work equipment, must address potential risks and identify appropriate control measures.

(b)  Where a risk assessment carried out by any department has identified a significant risk of injury from the installation or use of work equipment the department must arrange for a suitable inspection (which may include test) to be carried out by a competent person and recorded.

(c)  Departments must ensure that work equipment is subject to proper maintenance (so that performance does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk) carried out by persons competent for the work.  The complexity and frequency of maintenance will vary with the type of equipment and its conditions of use.  Planned preventative maintenance may be necessary.  Wherever possible maintenance should be in accordance with manufacturers' instructions.  Departments are advised to keep a maintenance log.

(d)  Departments must ensure that all those who use, supervise or manage work equipment have available to them adequate health and safety information and instructions on the use of the work equipment.  In complex cases or where significant risk is involved in any incorrect use of the equipment, the information and instructions should be in writing and should include information concerning any foreseeable difficulties and instructions on the procedures necessary to deal with them.  The information supplied by manufacturers (which must be in English) will be sufficient to satisfy these requirements.  In addition, departments should ensure that all relevant information is passed to persons who maintain the equipment.

(e)  Departments must ensure that all users, supervisors, managers and maintainers of work equipment receive adequate training, taking into account the risks involved and the particular circumstances of use of the equipment.  Persons who use or maintain work equipment must be competent.  Departments should keep a written record of  training.

3.  Specific duties placed on departments

(a)  Measures must be taken to guard against contact with dangerous parts of machinery.

(b)  Measures must be taken to guard against a list of hazards specified in the Regulations, examples are against disintegration, ejection and explosion.

(c)  Measures must be taken to guard against injury from high and very low temperatures.

(d)  Work equipment must be provided, where appropriate, with suitable controls for stop, start and emergency stop and with safe control systems.

(e)  Provision must be made for safe and effective isolation of work equipment from all its sources of energy.

(f)  Equipment which might otherwise fall, overturn or collapse must be made stable.

(g)  Suitable and sufficient lighting must be provided at work equipment.

(h)  Work equipment must be constructed or adapted so that maintenance operations can be safely carried out.

(i)  Work equipment must carry appropriate health and safety markings and warnings and in some situations posted information may be needed.  ("Statutory type" notices are, however, no longer required).

4.  Actions required by departments

(a)  Departments with well chosen and well maintained equipment other than mobile equipment will need to do little more than at present.

(b)  Areas where there are potential risks to health and safety from work equipment, should be identified as part of assessments made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992.  Control measures must be adapted which could include inspections (and for mobile work equipment, improvements and modifications).

(c)  Where there is risk to health and safety, the operation and maintenance of work equipment should be restricted to suitably trained and competent persons.  For instance work equipment may require specialist decontamination such as from chemical, biological or radiation risks before maintenance can take place.

(d)  Work equipment must be properly maintained (so that performance does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk) and a related maintenance log should be kept.

5.  Further guidance

More detailed advice may be found in "Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance" ISBN 0 7176 1626 6 which is available for consultation in the Safety Office.


March 1999