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What does PUWER stand for?
PUWER is an abbreviation for Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It is often referred to as the PUWER Regs or PUWER 98 regulations. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) came into force on 5 December 1998.
What is PUWER?
PUWER replaces the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 and carries forward these existing requirements with a few changes and additions, for example the inspection of work equipment and specific new requirements for mobile work equipment. Many aspects of PUWER should therefore be familiar to you.
The PUWER Regulations require risks to people’s health and safety, from equipment that they use at work, to be prevented or controlled. In addition to the requirements of PUWER, lifting equipment is also subject to the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
What items require inspecting under PUWER?
A thorough examination by a competent person must be performed on all high risk work equipment under PUWER regs, Lower risk and simple work equipment items can be inspected in-house by your own competent staff, providing they have the necessary competency. Generally, 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. Similarly, if you allow employees to provide their own equipment, it too will be covered by PUWER and you will need to make sure it complies.
Work equipment must have met all the requirements of the Regulations from 5 December 1998. However, requirements relating to certain aspects of mobile work equipment (see below) did not apply to such equipment (provided for use in the business before 5 December 1998) until 5 December 2002. Read HSE information sheet MISC156 if you use hired mobile work equipment.
Examples of uses of equipment which are covered by the Regulations include starting or stopping the equipment, maintaining, servicing, repairing, modifying, cleaning and transporting.
What does PUWER do?
In general terms, the PUWER Regulations require that equipment provided for use at work is: maintained safe for use, in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, suitable for the intended use, inspected to ensure this remains the case by a suitable competent person such as ISI, used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training; and accompanied by suitable safety measures, e.g. protective devices, markings, warnings.
Do the PUWER 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 PUWER inspection 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).
While your employees do not have duties under PUWER, they do have general duties under the HSW Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR), for example to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions, and to co-operate with others.
The PUWER Regulations cover places where the HSW Act applies – these include 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 PUWER Regulations cover equipment used by people working from home, they do not apply to domestic work in a private household.
What do the PUWER Regulations require me to do?
You have duties to ensure that work equipment you provide meets the requirements of PUWER. In doing so, you should ensure that it is:
Suitable for use, and for the purpose and conditions in which it is used;
- Maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk;
- 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 (ISI can assist you in this role) and a record kept until the next inspection.
- You should also ensure that risks, created by the use of the equipment, are eliminated where possible or controlled by:
- Taking appropriate ‘hardware’ measures, e.g. providing suitable guards, warning devices, system control devices (such as emergency stop buttons) protection devices, markings and personal protective equipment.
- Taking appropriate ‘software’ measures such as following safe systems of work (e.g. performing maintenance only when the machine is correctly isolated), and providing adequate information, training and instruction.
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.
You need to ensure that people using work equipment have received adequate training, instruction and information for the particular equipment.
With reference to Mobile work equipment, in addition to these general requirements which apply to all work equipment, Part III of PUWER contains specific duties regarding mobile work equipment, for example fork-lift trucks and dumper trucks. You should ensure that where mobile work equipment is used for carrying people, it is suitable for this purpose. Measures should be taken to reduce the risks (e.g. from it rolling over) to the safety of the people being carried, the operator and anyone else.
Power presses inspections- Part IV of the PUWER Regulations also contains specific requirements regarding power presses. In particular, you should have a power press, and associated guard or protection device, thoroughly examined at specified intervals by a competent person such as ISI.
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