Safe work equipment

In all types of workplaces, there are different types of equipment and machinery that we use to carry out everyday tasks. All work equipment has the potential to cause problems in the workplace, so you need to ensure that it remains safe to use and that you’re not putting employees at risk.

What is work equipment?

Work equipment is any equipment used at work, such as:

  • lifting equipment – including fork-lift trucks, vehicle hoists and lifting slings;
  • hand tools – including hammers, chisels, screwdrivers and saws;
  • transport equipment – including vans and forklift trucks;
  • display screen equipment (DSE) – including computer displays and work stations.

In addition, workplace equipment can include:

  • respiratory protective equipment (RPE) – including respirators and breathing apparatus;
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) – including safety footwear, hard hats, goggles and respirators.

Are there any legal duties around work equipment?

If you own, operate or have control over work equipment, you need to ensure it is fit for purpose, and is being used safely and effectively under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).

PUWER requires that work equipment is safe for use, used in accordance with requirements and is only used by employees who have been trained to use it.

What can I do to make sure that work equipment is safe?

There are a number of measures you can take to ensure that risks created by work equipment are eliminated or controlled, including:

  • selecting suitable equipment and maintaining it properly;
  • carrying out a risk assessment to identify any risks presented by work equipment;
  • following the manufacturers’ instructions for use and maintenance;
  • ensuring a robust system of defective fault reporting is in place, and that employees use this system.

Do I need to train employees on how to use equipment?

Under PUWER, work equipment is only allowed to be used by people who have received adequate training.

You should ensure that any employee using work equipment in your business has received training on the correct use of the equipment and the risks that may arise from its use.

You also need to ensure your employees take part in refresher training on a regular basis. If there are changes in technology or equipment, you must arrange further training for them.