PUWER Regulations for Employers
PUWER stands for Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Construction businesses must look at PUWER regulations closely to consider which equipment could apply and as the term 'work equipment' is a very general covering any tool, appliance or piece of machinery that could pose a risk to an employee - it requires businesses to consider the risk to people's health and safety in regards to the work equipment to be prevented or controlled.
This applies to employers, employees, contractors, and suppliers, whether they are full-time, part-time, or temporary workers.
The Building Safety Group (BSG) has reported a 40% increase in PUWER equipment breaches on construction sites with PUWER regulations enforced by HSE inspectors during regular checks.
Health and safety inspectors will review your equipment and procedures and if they believe the equipment has not been subjected to the inspections and risk assessments required by PUWER regulations will receive an improvement notice.
In these cases, the inspector will advise the company owner what steps they need to take to comply with PUWER requirements and will offer them a 21-day window to do so. If the actions are not completed within the period, a prohibition notice will be enforced, preventing the owner from using the equipment.
What Does 'Work Equipment' Cover Under PUWER Regulations?
Unfortunately, 'work equipment' can cover almost any equipment used by a worker at worker, including lifting equipment, ladders, hand tools, machinery, saws, starting or stopping equipment, knives, motor vehicles and even office equipment! Generally it is any equipment an employee can use at work (see below for the common equipment covered).
A competent person must perform an examination on all high risk work equipment. Lower risk items can be inspected by your own staff providing they have the necessary training.
Employers need to be aware that the PUWER Regulations apply to employees using their own tools as well!
Here is a list to give you an idea of what equipment is involved:
- Power tools
- Glue guns
- Welding equipment
- Abrasive wheels
- Wood presses
- Pressure washers
- Belt sanders
- Pumps and hoses
- Forklift trucks
- Motor vehicles
- Food processors
- Pallet trucks
- Sewing machines
- Paint booths
- Cherry pickers
- Floor polishers
- Cooking equipment
- Laboratory items
- Bunsen burners
- Fire-fighting equipment
- Medical equipment
- Commercial fridges and freezers
- Ovens and microwaves
- Washing machines
- Commercial coffee makers
- Hot and cold holding units
- Electrical wiring
- Water sprinklers
- Air conditioning units
- Heating systems
- Plumbing systems
- Escalators and elevators
- Emergency stop controls
There is no detailed list given by the PUWER Regulations so if anything could provide a Health & Safety danger you should take it upon yourself to carry out a risk assessment and prevent/control any possible risk.
Does PUWER Regulations Apply To Me?
The PUWER inspection requirements will apply to you if you are an employer or self-employed person who provides equipment for use at work or has control over the use of equipment.
PUWER does not apply to equipment used by the public for example air pumps at a petrol garage. This will fall under Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Where Does PUWER Regulations Apply?
The PUWER Regulations cover the same places where the Health & Safety Act apply - these include factories, offices, shops, hospitals, care homes, cinemas/theatres, nightclubs, hotels, place of entertainment, common parts of shared buildings, temporary places or work such as construction sites.
PUWER Regulations do not apply to domestic work in a private household.
How To Comply With PUWER Regulations?
The very first thing you should is to create a Asset Register, your PUWER Asset Register should include all details of plant work equipment owned or leased and should include the following information:
- Description of the asset
Explain what the asset is so if someone is completing a check they can distinguish the asset. Assigning code names can make it easier to identify assets especially in larger organisations where there are multiple.
- Owner of the asset - The company, leasing company or an employee?
- Date of purchase
- Location of the asset - On premises/site?
- The asset user - Who has permission to use the asset, who is responsible, who services the asset, how often?
- Manufacturer's warranty information
- Maintenance Information - Instructions on repairing the asset, history of the repairs/replacements, who conducted the repairs and receipts of services.
What To Do Next?
Training! PUWER Regulations state that every employer must ensure that all persons who use the work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health & safety, managing risks and precautions to be taken.
Training at the very minimum should include Health & Safety Training.
Before handling any kind of machinery, it is mandatory that the person must be competent to use it, therefore training must be provided on safe operating procedures (SOPs).
As an employer, you will also be required to provide refresher training when necessary. All training records should be available for inspections.
Guidelines to Employers
As a construction owner, you will need to ensure that your work equipment you provide meets the requirements set up by the PUWER Regulation and is:
- Maintained in a safe condition
- Inspected/serviced regularly by a competent person
- Records kept of use, inspection/servicing etc
- CE marked by the supplier
- Suitable for use, and for the purpose and conditions in which it is used.
Construction Advice - What Does PUWER Regulation Require You To Do?
- Work equipment is regularly service, maintained in a good working order and any repairs is carried out by an approved staff or contractor
- Have appropriate hardware measures, eg protection devices, markings and warning devices, system control devices (emergency buttons), suitable guards and personal protective equipment
- Have appropriate software measures, eg providing adequate information, training and instruction
- Ensure risks created by the use of the equipment, are eliminated where possible or controlled
- Ensure all work equipment is suitable for the job at hand... Consider the location - can we safely use this equipment on site, what hazards does it present, what conditions of use are there?
- Ensure your team has information available, clear instructions and training to safely use and maintain the equipment
- Work equipment is stable and adequately lit (saws, drills etc)
- Equipment is able to be isolated from the power source without great difficulty i.e plugs are not being blocked/difficult to get to
- Planned preventative maintenance programme
- Records of maintenance is kept and monitored
- Mobile equipment is provided with roll-over protection, as required.
- Have someone who issues out the equipment
- Clear markings and warnings
- Safe areas to work and isolation procedures
- Internal procedures for the maintenance of hired equipment
- Suitable guarding to prevent access to dangerous areas
- Ensure detailed guides are available with clear instructions on how equipment should be used safely
What Inspections Are Required within PUWER Regulations?
1. Before each use of equipment (pre-use checks - not required but good practice)
Before using any work equipment, operators should perform a short pre-use inspection to confirm there are no evident signs of damage. They should, for example, inspect the cords on handheld equipment and test the brakes and lights on work vehicles.
2. Visual inspections
Where equipment is visually checked for any obvious issues or deterioration plus to ensure that the safe operation such as guarding is in good condition. This is not a detailed check but is more comprehensive that a pre-check and carried out more frequently than inspections.
3. Thorough Examination
A full functionality check with testing. This is not required for equipment unless it is a power press
Lifting equipment and pressure systems normally require a examination.
How Long Do I Need To Keep My Records?
Test and Inspections - A legal requirement, records will need to be kept until at least the next test/inspection however we would recommend keeping the information on file for the life of the equipment to provide service history
Risk Assessments - A legal requirement, records need to be kept until the next assessment however again we would recommend keeping them for the life of the asset and this proves you have completed the assessment and have taken appropriate precautions
Accident, Incident - A legal requirement, records to be kept for 3 years
Safety Training - Records kept for 3 years or the duration of the certificate then it is down to the policy of the organisation
PUWER Risk Assessments
Risk Assessments are required under PUWER and are designed to ensure you have considered the things that could go wrong in your workplace. There are 5 steps you should follow to carry out a simple risk assessments:
Step 1 - Identify the hazards
Step 2 - Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3 - Evaluate the risks - what is the likelihood of them happening and the harm they could cause? What precautions could you implement?
Step 4 - Record your findings and implement them, keeping all records available for inspections
Are PUWER Regulations Enforced?
PUWER is there to protect the people, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH):
- 147 workers were killed at work
- 581,000 workers sustained non-fatal injuries
- 69,208 employees reported their non-fatal injuries
- Estimated 4.7 million work days were lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries
Fines resulting from penalisation from Health & Safety Executive amounted to £54.5 million
This article was written for Construction Insider and Saint Financial Group. Saint is a multidisciplinary group based in the UK that helps construction businesses develop and grow. SaintFG offers a range of quality solutions in supporting businesses.
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