Work equipment

Work equipment is governed by “The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998” (PUWER) which require risks to person’s health and safety from work equipment they use at work, to be prevented or controlled.

Work equipment covers an enormous range spanning across process machinery, machine tools, office machines, mowing machines, lifting equipment, laboratory equipment and apparatus, hand tools, ladders and stepladders, pressure washers, circular saws, drilling machines, tractors, dumpers, compressors, scaffolds, fork lift trucks, soldering irons etc.  In fact almost any equipment used at work is covered.

This means that Heads of Management Units should ensure that:

  • Only equipment which is suitable for the task and its intended use is selected - consider the job, location, purpose and conditions in which it is used
  • New work equipment is CE marked and provided with an EC Declaration of Conformity (where applicable). See HSE booklet "Buying New Machinery".
  • Clear written instructions (in English) are provided
  • Work equipment is provided with relevant warnings, protective devices and markings where required to ensure safety
  • Work equipment is safe for any work which has to be done in setting up, maintenance, repair, breakdowns, blockages as well as normal working not only by experienced persons but also by new starts, students, those who may have particular difficulties and by those who may act foolishly or carelessly or make mistakes
  • A suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the equipment is completed in writing and risks from electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic power supplies are taken into account including badly designed safeguards which might be inconvenient to use or easily defeated
  • Work equipment is fitted with appropriate guards where necessary to prevent access to dangerous parts, or to stop dangerous parts before a person can reach them
  • Static machines are stable (usually fixed down) and not sited where they could cause risks to others and adequately lit
  • The use of dangerous equipment is restricted to those who have been nominated as users
  • Work equipment is capable of being effectively isolated from its power source
  • Information, instruction and training is provided to all employees and managers on the safe use and maintenance of all work equipment following manufacturers’ or suppliers’ instructions including what to do in the event of foreseeable difficulties
  • A planned preventive maintenance programme (and if appropriate, thorough examination at regular intervals by a competent person) is established to ensure the equipment remains in a safe and efficient condition in good repair and working order
  • Visible and identifiable control devices are provided which are in a safe place and easily accessible location
  • Clear instructions are given to all staff that unsafe equipment must not be used under any circumstances
  • A written agreement for the maintenance of hired equipment is clearly established
  • Proper records are kept (e.g. training, maintenance, statutory inspections etc).

Safe operation of work equipment and machinery requires competence, information, instruction, training, experience and proper supervision.

Manufacture, importation or adaptation of work equipment for use within the University.

When work equipment is made, or adapted in-house for use within the University, it must meet the basic health and safety standards set by PUWER.  In addition, the legal provisions regarding "supply" of machinery may also apply.  The HSE supply of equipment webpage provides guidance on these requirements.  Please also note the advice given here on purchase of equipment, especially directly imported equipment.

Note that "machinery specially designed and constructed for research purposes for temporary use in laboratories" may be excluded from CE assessment and marking requirements. This is NOT a blanket exemption but may be of relevance in some circumatances.

See also Lifting equipment  and Pressure systems webpages.