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The Provision and Use or Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) were made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) and came into force on 5 December 1998. The primary objective of PUWER is to ensure that work equipment shouldn’t cause injuries or ill health, regardless of its age, condition or origin.

PUWER applies to all workplaces and work situations subject to the HSWA and extends outside Great Britain to certain offshore activities in British territorial waters and on the UK Continental Shelf.

Anyone that is an employer (as an individual, partnership or company) has a duty to ensure that items of work equipment provided for employees (and their self) comply with PUWER The self-employed must similarly ensure that work equipment provided for work or used at work complies with PUWER.

Individuals that provide work equipment for use at work but do not control its use or the premises where it is to be used should still ensure that the work equipment complies with PUWER. The regulations cover various aspects of provision and use of work equipment, including:

  • Management duties, including the selection of suitable equipment (which conforms to EC Directives on product safety), maintenance, inspection, specific risks, information, instruction and training.
  • Guarding of dangerous parts of work equipment; the provision of appropriate stop and emergency stop controls; stability; suitable and sufficient lighting; and suitable warning markings or devices.
  • Risks from mobile work equipment.
  • Management requirements for the safe use of power presses.

PUWER also requires that where the risk assessment carried out under the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) has identified a significant risk to the operator or other workers from the installation or use of the work equipment, then a suitable inspection must be carried out. Inspection should be undertaken by competent persons  - i.e. those that have the necessary knowledge and experience to do so.

Where the work equipment is of a type where the safe operation is critically dependent upon its condition in use, the frequency of the inspection should be based on how quickly the work equipment is likely to deteriorate and therefore give rise to significant risk.