The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 or PUWER apply to work equipment and machinery that are used and handled in work sites on a day-to-basis and the regulations are meant to promote safe equipment use and handling practices. In simple words, the objective of PUWER is to promote a safe working environment for all who handle equipment and machinery in their daily lives. This might include employees and their employers, suppliers and contractors and anyone who has access to workplace equipment and machinery. PUWER is enforced to make sure that the equipment is suitable for use and that it is made to undergo regular maintenance. PUWER also requires equipment to be inspected only by qualified personnel and used by workers who are trained to handle them in a safe and efficient manner.
PUWER applies to activities that are undertaken within the boundaries of Great Britain and it also applies to offshore establishments including oil rigs and gas supply capabilities. PUWER covers the employers, self-employed people who own or maintain equipment, and people who are employed to supervise equipment use. Notably, PUWER does not apply to large businesses alone, but also to people who control equipment regardless of a profitmaking objective. However, PUWER does not apply to the equipment that is used by the public. The use of such equipment is guided by the terms and conditions of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974. Additionally, PUWER is not applicable to people who sell or supply equipment and it requires the equipment buyer to exercise prudence and take all measures to ensure safe equipment use.
PUWER requires companies to focus on user training. It requires companies to adopt appropriate precautionary measures to promote safe use of high-risk machinery. High-risk equipment is required to be inspected by a competent person and inspections need to be carried out at regular intervals. Besides, the machine users are also responsible for ensuring safe use of equipment. Interestingly, PUWER requires all equipment to be compatible with the worksite condition in which they will be used. So you should check whether your equipment will suit the existing conditions in the as-is form or it will need to be modified to make it suitable for your purpose and safe for your workmen.
PUWER enforces a legal obligation on you to ensure the safety of your workers. You are required to conduct a risk assessment to identify the probable hazards and keep track of things that may create a risk. If you find that you are not able to eliminate all risks, you should ideally note down the ways to reduce them and list the precautionary measures as well. Try experimenting with new ways of undertaking operations to check if an activity can be handled more safely.
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