27th Aug, 2020 Read time 4 minutes

A beginner’s guide to the PUWER regulations

Having a strong grasp of the relevant health and safety regulations that apply to your business is important when it comes to compliance and keeping your workers safe. Failure to comply with these regulations could land you in trouble further down the line.

Our guide introduces you to the different aspects of the PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment) regulations. These will help you improve the implementation of the regulations in your workplace.

What must I do to comply with the PUWER regulations?

The PUWER regulations are used to try and provide structure for how employers make sure the equipment they use in the workplace is safe and secure. This applies not only to factories but any workplace in which equipment is used on the business premises.

From a holistic perspective, the PUWER regulations mandate that employers should:

  • Preform adequate risk assessments to control the likelihood of an accident occurring with the equipment
  • Make sure all that work with the equipment are given the correct levels of training to operate all aspects safely
  • Maintain up-to-date logs for all the relevant equipment
  • Make sure that the equipment is cleaned and maintained in working order


Who do the PUWER regulations apply to?

When it comes to ensuring the proper compliance of the PUWER regulations, the main duty of care falls on the employer who has to ensure they provide a safe environment for people to work in. Part of the role also involves keeping workers aware of the best guidance from the HSE Executive and maintain adequate records of the state and risk assessments associated with the different equipment that falls under PUWER.

The self-employed also have a duty to keep any work equipment maintained and safe as do any employees who bring equipment into the workplace. The equipment must always meet the PUWER regulations.


What types of equipment are covered by PUWER?

The diverse nature of the equipment that may be present in a workplace means some of it may or may not be covered under the PUWER regulations. Having said that the best practice document for following the regulations describes the application of PUWER as ‘very wide’ and can typically consist of appliances, tools, machinery and ergonomic equipment which could pose health risks for employees. Other examples of equipment that apply to the regulations are shown below:

If you are at all unsure on whether the PUWER regulations apply to any equipment in your workplace, following the regulations as best as reasonably practicable could give you a good basis for creating a safe working environment when it comes to equipment.


How do I give the correct training for equipment under PUWER?

The right level of training can be quite subjective and as such differs from workplace to workplace. Having training that is tailored to your specific equipment and working environment is often the best place to start.

The PUWER regulations state that only workers who have been given adequate training can operate the equipment in question. This can be determined by the level of depth the training goes into and the previous competence of the worker. The latter should be determined for all employees when they start at a new workplace.

Best practice recommends that guides for operating the equipment should be clearly written and made available. This can help provide ongoing training and reinforcement. These instructions should be added to if the employees notice any issues or caveats that should be added.


How often should PUWER inspections be conducted?

Frequently checking equipment will help to ensure it is properly maintained and make apparent any damage or wear that may appear over time. The rate at which equipment is checked is left somewhat to the employer’s discretion under PUWER, naturally, equipment that is used more frequently will require more checks that equipment that is often left idle.

It is worth noting that the PUWER regulations to state that equipment must be checked in the event of ‘exceptional circumstances’ occurring. This could be a change in the use of the equipment, any major upgrades or modifications, and any major damage.


Why is following the regulations important?

The PUWER regulations are put in place to help save lives and lessen the risks of accidents related to equipment in the workplace occurring. As an employer following these regulations is important from a humanistic, legal and financial perspective. Following other regulations like COSHH and RIDDOR is also essential in keeping your workplace safe and functional.

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