Whether an employer, manager, or supervisor with responsibility for health and safety, this guidance document will explain the regulations governing workplace equipment aiming to:
Work equipment is any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool, or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not). This includes equipment which employees provide for their own use at work. The scope of work equipment is therefore extremely wide.
The use of work equipment is also very widely interpreted and ‘…means any activity involving work equipment and includes starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning.’
PUWER is the baseline where regulation starts. LOLER, PSSR, and other health and safety regulations such as COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are in addition to this. These regulations are explored further in the rest of this document.
Applies to all work equipment. The object of the regulation is to ensure that the working life of everyone who uses or comes into contact with work equipment or machinery remains safe.
Select and provide the right equipment for the job
Ensure work equipment is safely used by trained people
Inspect and maintain work equipment so it remains safe
How often does a risk assessment need to be carried out?
These should be carried out every 12 months – or sooner if a process or a piece of machinery changes.
Risk assessments are not about providing reams and reams of paperwork, but a list of sensible measures to control the risk presented.
Having a CE mark does not guarantee equipment safety.
Hardware measure – a fixed guard to keep body parts away from moving machinery while it’s in operation. Software measure – a safe system of work or a risk assessment.
Regulation applies to organisations and businesses where their employees lift or lower loads – an equipment’s primary function is for lifting.
The regulation requires that:
Is suitably marked
Is subject to statutory periodic ‘thorough examination’
This picture shows two pieces of equipment. The yellow forklift is covered by LOLER.
The pallet truck is covered by PUWER.
Although the pallet truck lifts and lowers, its primary function is to move.
The primary function of the forklift is to lift items – it is covered by LOLER and PUWER.
LOLER will cover all of the lifting items i.e. chains, forks, and controls and PUWER covers everything else.
What is the difference between a service and a thorough examination?
A service can be carried out by a maintenance engineer who might change oil or tyres e.g. like a car service at a garage. A thorough examination must be carried out by a competent person who has the knowledge and experience to be able to detect defects e.g. like an MOT – it’s a statutory legal requirement.
So, you do need to check your documents because they are not the same thing?
A service provider carries out a service, not a LOLER inspection. A LOLER inspection should not be carried out on an individual’s own maintenance work.
Covers the safe design and use of pressure systems aiming to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy (pressure) as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts. Source HSE
Checks must be carried out by a competent person
Pipework of a pressure system checks
How do you find out if your system needs checking under the regulations?
Somewhere on the equipment will state its safe working pressure and capacity in litres –then multiply the two together.
Typical equipment: boiler and steam heating systems, compressed air systems, autoclaves, pressure gauges, and safety devices. A coffee machine operates under steam pressure which must be examined under PSSR, regardless of the 250 bar litres rule.
What is a written scheme of examination?
It determines the frequency and the nature of the examination and is drawn up by a competent person. It will define what exactly needs an examination; what safety valves should be tested; the internals of a vessel; how often, and if there is any other pipework or anything else that requires an inspection.
Defined in the written scheme of examination, frequencies:
Effective LEV or dust/fume extraction can carry away airborne contaminants before they can be breathed in. Source: HSE
COSHH Regulations – Control of substances hazardous to health and PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
What happens if employees refuse to wear PPE?
An organisation must investigate why they are refusing to use the PPE – it might be uncomfortable, it might make working with the hazardous substances more difficult or more dangerous, so have those discussions first. Everyone’s different, everyone’s face and body is different so products to suit the individual need to be found. However after that exercise, if the individual is still refusing to wear the PPE it is important to go down the disciplinary route. The employer may be liable for non-use of PPE where employees are exposed to hazardous substances.
This guidance document has highlighted some of the regulations that govern the use and supply of work equipment and how they interlink. PUWER is the baseline regulation – some work equipment will be regulated through other health and safety legislation e.g LOLER, PSSR and COSHH (LEV).
Points to remember:
Workplace health and safety can help reduce sick days and boost productivity. We explore other tangible benefits and how you can provide employees with appropriate health and safety training.
If you’re thinking of getting a NEBOSH general certificate qualification, we’ve put together everything you need to know to get started.