If your business or organisation provides or uses work equipment then you are under an obligation to ensure that any such equipment is safe to use and that any risks from that equipment to employees or other third parties are properly managed.
These general duties are placed upon employers by The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). More specific rules and guidance can be found in The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) - Safe use of work equipment, as well as specific regulations and codes of practice covering woodworking machinery, power presses , lifting equipment and electrical equipment.
Firstly it is important to note that these regulations place duties upon people not immediately considered “employers”. These duties fall upon anyone who has control of work equipment. For example Contractors (whether as an individual, partnership or company) are responsible for any work equipment provided for their employees, self-employed staff or subcontractors. In turn the self employed or sub-contractors are responsible for work equipment that they provide. Others (which include hire companies) are responsible insofar as they retain any control over the equipment. Employees also have a general responsibility under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and specifically (eg the Electricity at Work Regs 1989) to ensure that the equipment is safe to use.
Secondly the scope of ‘work equipment’ is extremely wide and covers almost all equipment used at work. Work equipment includes for example hammers, knives, handsaws, drilling machines, circular saws, dumper trucks lifting equipment, ladders, pressure water cleaners and office equipment.
Under these rules you must ensure
- That the equipment is suitable
- That the equipment has been maintained.
- That the equipment is inspected
- That users have adequate information and instructions.
- That the equipment is properly marked.
- That users have adequate training.
- That specific hazards have been take into account
- That the equipment conforms to European Community law
The equipment must be constructed or adapted to be suitable for the purpose it is to be used or provided for. You need to take into account the working conditions and health and safety risks in the workplace when selecting such equipment and ensure work equipment is only used for suitable purposes.
The work equipment must be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. It is important that equipment is maintained so that its performance does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk. In this regard ‘efficient’ relates to how the condition of the equipment might affect health and safety.
The purpose of an inspection is to identify whether the equipment can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely and that any deterioration (for example defect, damage, wear) can be detected and remedied before it results in unacceptable risks.
There are no statutory requirements dictating the frequency or type of inspections except in the following circumstances;
- where the safety of work equipment depends on the manner of installation, it must be suitably inspected after installation and before being put into use
- where exceptional circumstances have occurred which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the work equipment ie major modifications, refurbishment or major repair work, after known or suspected serious damage , or after a substantial change in the nature of use for example from an extended period of inactivity.
- where the equipment is subject to any specific requirements under other regulations eg the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998 or Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000
The frequency and nature of any inspection and testing is entirely a matter of judgement to be made by the duty holder. Any assessment should be should be based on how quickly the work equipment or parts of it are likely to deteriorate, and should take into account the type of equipment, how it is used and the conditions to which it is exposed.
An inspection may vary from a simple visual external inspection to a detailed comprehensive inspection requiring dismantling and/or testing. Furthermore the inspections may be simple enough to be carried out by a user or require the expertise of a specialist. Lastly any contractual requirements should be considered, eg the restriction on repairing and maintaining hired equipment.
In the case of our hired equipment the user should carry out any routine visual and operational checks, but should return the equipment to Toga where any repairs or specialist testing (ie PAT testing) is required.
It is a requirement under the PUWER regs;
- That a record of the last inspection must be retained for reference
- That the record of the last inspection must accompany any equipment when it passes from one undertaking to another.
Information and instructions.
The dutry holder should ensure that any written instructions are available to the people directly using the work equipment. Those instructions should also be made available to other appropriate people eg supervisors and managers.
This should include all relevant health and safety information and, where appropriate, written instructions on the use of work equipment to their workforce. Workers should have easy access to such information and instructions and be able to understand them.
There are many circumstances in which marking of equipment is appropriate for health or safety reasons. Stop and start controls for equipment need to be identified. The maximum rotation speed of an abrasive wheel should be marked upon it. The maximum safe working load (rated capacity) should be marked on lifting equipment. Gas cylinders should indicate (normally by colour) the gas in them.
Markings may use words, letters, numbers, or symbols, and the use of colour or shape may be significant. Markings should as far as possible conform to such published standards as BS 5378 or as required by any appropriate legislation such as the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
Employers are under an obligation to ensure that all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training taking. In this regard they should take into account age, competence, ability and other factors such as loss of skill through rare and occasional use.
This training should include the correct use of the equipment and the risks that may arise from its use and the precautions to take. Where the use of work equipment is likely to involve a specific risk to health and safety (eg woodworking machinery), the employer must ensure that the use of the equipment is restricted to those people trained and appointed to use it.
The regulations require duty holders to consider specific hazards such as;
- material falling from equipment, for example a loose board falling from scaffolding;
- material held in the equipment being unexpectedly thrown out, for example swarf ejected from a machine tool;
- parts of the equipment breaking off and being thrown out, for example an abrasive wheel bursting;
- parts of the equipment coming apart, for example collapse of scaffolding or falsework;
- overheating or fire due, for example, to friction (bearings running hot, conveyor belt on jammed roller), electric motor burning out, thermostat failing, cooling system failure;
- explosion of the equipment due to pressure build-up, perhaps due to the failure of a pressure-relief valve or the unexpected blockage or sealing off of pipework;
- explosion of substances in the equipment, due, for example, to exothermic chemical reaction or unplanned ignition of a flammable gas or vapour or finely divided organic material (for example flour, coal dust), or welding work on a container with flammable residues.
- the risk of injury from contact with hot or very cold work equipment, parts of work equipment or articles or substances in the work equipment. It does not cover any related risk such as radiant heat or glare
- mobile work equipment, including carrying employees, minimising the risks from rolling, braking devices, adequate driver vision and, where necessary, lighting.
European Community law
There are legal requirements covering all those involved in the chain of supply. When first providing equipment for use in the workplace you should ensure that it has been made to the requirements of the legislation implementing any product Directive that is relevant to the equipment. Where appropriate, you can check to see that the equipment bears a CE marking and is accompanied by the relevant certificates or declarations required by relevant product Directives.
IT IS THE USERS RESPONSIBILITY TO:
- Assess and request equipment that is suitable for the task.
- Check that the equipment delivered has a prior record of inspection.
- Determine the inspection regime suitable for that type of equipment and the conditions within which it will operate.
- Carry out and record visual and user checks in accordance with that inspection regime.
- Ensure that any equipment that is deemed unsafe is not used, appropriately tagged and that immediate arrangements are made for Toga to remove it.
- Ensure that the safety and operating instructions provided with the equipment are retained with that equipment for the benefit of all users.
- Check that the equipment is properly marked.
- Ensure that all users have adequate training in the safe use of the equipment.
- Ensure that specific hazards have been take into account when assessing the use of the equipment and that proper measures are in place to manage those risks
- Check that the equipment is CE marked.
AS THE SUPPLIER OF EQUIPMENT FOR USE ON SITE IT IS TOGA'S RESPONSIBILITY TO:
- Ensure that our equipment is maintained and delivered to site is in full working order.
- Carry out a full inspection after its last use and prior to its delivery to site.
- Provide confirmation of the last inspection test.
- Carry out any statutory tests or certification using an appropriately qualified person.
- Provide safety and operating instructions relevant to the equipment.
- Ensure that any safety markings are clearly shown.
- Draw any specific hazards to the users attention.
- Ensure that all equipment hired to customers confirms to European Community Law and has the relevant CE marking.
CONTAINS PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY THE HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE AND LICENSED UNDER THE OPEN GOVERNMENT LICENCE V1.0’.
HSE website links.
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At TOGA Hire Centres, we take Health and Safety matters very seriously and hope that these fact sheets are of help. However, we must stress that these guidelines are not intended to be fully comprehensive instructions and the customer should, of course, be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their staff at all times.
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