Work equipment safety

Every year there are accidents and injuries in the UK from using work equipment, including machinery, work vehicleswork vehicleswork vehicles, electrical itemselectrical itemselectrical items and display screen equipmentdisplay screen equipmentdisplay screen equipment (DSE). It also includes hand tools. The University is required by law to select, test and install work equipment properly, use it carefully and make sure it is maintained, in a safe condition. This includes ensuring electrical equipment undergoes regular Portable Appliance TestingPortable Appliance TestingPortable Appliance Testing (PAT).

What you need to do

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) sets out legal requirements for the use of work equipment. If you are responsible for work equipment you must ensure that it is safe by:

  • giving consideration to potential health and safety risk prior to purchasing work equipmentpurchasing work equipmentpurchasing work equipment
  • carrying out a risk assessment, to identify and address health and safety hazards arising from its installation, use and maintenance
  • following manufacturer's recommendations for its use and maintenance
  • arranging regular inspections or examination by a competent person, where necessary
  • ensuring staff are trained and competent
  • taking reasonable steps to ensure new work equipment complies with the relevant European requirements for safe design and construction

In addition, you must not use, or permit the use of, unsafe work equipment. You must also ensure that dangerous work equipment is not used by untrained people. The only exception is those undergoing training, who must be supervised by a trained, competent person.

Common hazards

The following examples of hazards associated with using and maintaining work equipment need to be considered as part of your risk assessment.

Task hazards

Equipment hazards

  • Inadequate guarding from moving parts.
  • Trapping.
  • Ejection of material.
  • Striking.
  • Cutting.
  • Entanglement.
  • Heat.
  • Stability.
  • Poor/inadequate maintenance.
  • ElectricityElectricityElectricity.
  • Movement of mobile or self-propelled work equipment.

Working environment hazards

Hazardous agents

Inspection and maintenance of work equipment

You need to inspect and maintain work equipment to ensure it is safe to use and any deterioration in its condition is detected and remedied before it becomes dangerous. You should regularly inspect equipment if there is any significant risk to users or others through its installation or use. The result of the inspection should be recorded and a record kept. People who carry out the inspection need to be competent and know what to check and know when the condition has deteriorated. HSAS can provide advice or you can follow our easy to use guides on common equipment found in the office.

Further information

Safe use of lifting equipment

There are additional legal requirements for lifting equipment used for work. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations cover any equipment used at work for lifting or lowering loads and the attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. Examples are passenger lifts, forklift trucks, hoists, mobile elevating work platforms, and vehicle inspection platform hoists. It also includes rope access and positioning systems, such as that used in arboriculture, window cleaning and entertainment. The definition also includes lifting accessories such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc.

The Regulations require that lifting equipment and accessories are:

  • suitable and strong enough for its intended use
  • positioned to prevent risk of injury from the equipment or the load
  • visibly marked with relevant safety information, such as its safe working load and, where relevant, its suitability for lifting people
  • maintained in a safe condition
  • thoroughly examined by a competent person at suitable intervals (see statutory inspections below)

In addition, lifting operations must be planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner by people who are competent.

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Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Telephone: 01206 872944