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Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations

PUWER was originally introduced in 1992 following the issue of the European framework directive on health and safety. They were revised in 1998 and specific new requirements were added for mobile equipment including forklift trucks.

What does PUWER say?

In general terms, the regulations require that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • Suitable for the intended use
  • Safe for use
  • Maintained in a safe condition
  • Inspected to ensure it remains safe
  • Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • Accompanied by suitable safety measures such as protective devices, markings and warnings
  • Fitted with restraining systems, (Reg. 27) See link to seat belts on left.

What is covered?

As a general rule, any equipment which is used by an employee at work is covered and if an employer allows employees to provide their own equipment, it too will be covered by PUWER. Examples of the uses of equipment which are covered by the Regulations include starting or stopping the equipment, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, cleaning and transporting.

Who is covered?

While 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.

What must I do to comply?

You must ensure that the 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

You should also ensure that risks, created by the use of the equipment, are eliminated where possible or controlled 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
  • 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

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 employers are required to "ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken".

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 (eg from it rolling over) to the safety of the people being carried, the operator and anyone else.

You can download a PDF copy of PUWER here.

PUWER 1998 revokes the Woodworking Machinery Regulations and supersedes the Power Press Regulations 1965 and 1972 and the Abrasive Wheel Regulations 1971