What is PUWER?
PUWER refers to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. PUWER applies to all businesses and organisations that provide work equipment, whether they own them or not, for use in the workplace. It outlines what employers need (or may need) to do to protect their employees in the workplace.
Despite mainly applying to employers, it is beneficial for employees to familiarise themselves with these regulations.
A short summary for using PUWER is that as an employer/business owner, you must ensure that all work equipment is:
- Suitable for work in terms of its use, purpose, and the conditions in which it will be used.
- Maintained so that it is in a safe and usable condition which reduces the risk of people/employees being harmed.
- Inspected regularly by qualified employees with written records.
What ‘Work Equipment’ does PUWER Refer To?
PUWER ordinarily applies to any piece of equipment that is used by an employee at work. In tree surgery, this could be anything, from ladders, chainsaws and our vehicles, to photocopiers within the office.
It is worth noting that even if your employees provide their own equipment, it is still regulated by PUWER and you should take necessary measures to make sure that it complies.
What do I need to do?
Alongside making sure that all work equipment is suitable for work, is regularly maintained and regularly inspected, as an employer you should:
- Manage the risks of each piece of equipment used – this involves the consideration of the health and safety risks associated with it and where appropriate ensuring that it is only used by those who are qualified to operate/use it. Additionally, you should take measures to prevent access to any piece of work equipment/machinery that is deemed dangerous and prevent the risk of any parts or substances falling, being dropped or falling out of machinery/equipment and injuring employees.
- Ensure that written records surrounding maintenance and inspection are kept up to date and can easily be referred to.
- Make sure that all equipment has easily identifiable controls for stopping, starting, and controlling it.
Additionally, if you provide new work equipment in the workplace, you must ensure that it applies the essential requirements of the European Community Law or the Machinery Directive. You will be able to tell if it does if it:
- Is CE marked.
- Comes with a Declaration of Conformity.
- Comes with English instructions.
- Is free from apparent defects (and remains so for the rest of its product life).
Furthermore, you must also consider the following when proving mobile work equipment:
- Equipment that is used for lifting is suitable for that purpose (also see LOLER).
- Minimising the risks of the piece of machinery/equipment from rolling over and in-turn ensuring that any person who is lifted or carried is protected against it, as well as from crushing. E.g., suitable restraints, protective clothing, safety helmets etc.
- That equipment which is self-propelled is equipped with brakes, suitable driver vision and lighting.
Legislations that Apply
While PUWER is not law, it does full under the Health and Safety at Work Act and has a special status. PUWER is also aided by other regulations, such as Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). It is supported by an ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) which encourages businesses to follow PUWER and operate within the law.
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