When compiling your organisation’s Legal Register, certain applicable legislation springs to mind more readily than others.
The Health and Safety at Work Act is a universal given, closely followed (sector dependent) by CDM Regs, Management of H&S at Work Regs, RIDDOR, RRFSO, DSEAR, LOLER, Control of Asbestos Regs, Electricity at Work Regs, etc etc…
All of the above place specific legal duties on the employer or responsible person, so familiarity is a slam-dunk requirement to ensure compliance.
For some reason the Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) doesn’t always seem to command the same respect, which is puzzling when one considers that you will find it impossible to identify a working environment where they are not relevant. Factories, warehouses, offices, schools and universities, hospitals, hotels, sporting arenas, shops, ships and theatres being just a few prime examples.
In simple terms, PUWER applies to any workplace/work situation where the HSWA resides, governing the use therein of machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation. Its objective is to prevent workplace equipment creating health and safety risks, regardless of age, condition or origin.
Equipment such as hammers, knives, handsaws; office hardware like printers, computers, air conditioning units; scaffolding (overlap with CDM); use of ladders, pressure washer cleaners; lab apparatus such as Bunsen burners and certain types of lifting equipment (that doesn’t fall under LOLER).
The above list is not exhaustive but should confirm that the scope of PUWER is extremely wide, and does, for the record, include any item that employees provide for their own use.
In respect of new equipment, employers should take account of ergonomic risks and ensure it carries CE marking, is free from defects, and has written instructions (which may need to be translated in a variety of languages).
Hired/loaned equipment also falls within PUWER’s remit. If the agreement is a long-term one, it is crucial to establish in writing who will assume responsibility for required maintenance. That said, the hiree takes ownership of day-to-day pre-start safety checks, and they must be undertaken by a competent person.
The mechanism for ongoing adherence to your duties is formal inspection, and the purpose of that process is to identify if tools etc can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely, and that any deteriorations can be detected and remedied.
The inspections should include, where appropriate, visual checks (the focus will normally be on areas most likely to fail), functionality checks and testing. There should be a formal procedure in place for reporting and actioning problems, and a maintenance schedule should also be implemented.
The inspector will determine what should be included in said inspection, how it should be done and when, but that is only possible if that person is competent (ie has necessary levels of knowledge, experience and training).
An inspection would also be triggered if equipment is moved, relocated, damaged or there is a significant change in item’s usage.
Each inspection should be formally documented, with the PUWER ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) L22 detailing precisely what information is required:
- The type and model of equipment;
- The equipment’s identification mark or number;
- The equipment’s usual location;
- The date of the inspection;
- The name and job title of whoever carried out the inspection;
- Any faults with the equipment;
- Any actions taken or planned to rectify the faults;
- Who the faults have been reported to;
- The date repairs or other necessary actions were carried out.
This formal evidence will help mitigate risk of a regulatory inspector taking enforcement action for failure to comply with PUWER Regs, which could have significant direct/indirect impacts upon your organisation.
Hopefully, this snapshot of PUWER helps confirm why it is well worthy of a place at the top table in terms of any appropriate and sufficient Legal Register. Is should be taken super seriously. More details can be found by searching for the ACOP L22.
I am a health & safety consultant, an accredited Implementer in ISO 45001 and a Lead Implementer in ISO 27001. I am also a Lead Auditor in 27001, 45001 and 14001. If I can be of any assistance, my contact details are contained on these pages.