Generally, any equipment which is used by an employee at work is covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) therefore as an employer you need to do everything possible to protect your employees in the workplace. This might be as simple as a general tool safety training course covering, for example hammers, knives, ladders, drilling machines, power presses, circular saws, photocopiers or a more operator based training course including practical sessions for lifting equipment, dumper trucks and construction or industrial machinery.
Similarly, if you allow employees to provide their own equipment then it will also be covered by PUWER and you will need to make sure it is compliant. Examples of uses of equipment which are covered by the Regulations include starting or stopping the equipment, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, cleaning and transporting.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
If you are an employer or self-employed person and you provide equipment for use at work, or if you have control of the use of equipment, then the Regulations will apply to you.
They do not apply to equipment used by the public, for example compressed-air equipment used in a garage forecourt, these circumstances are covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act). The Regulations cover workplaces where the HSW Act applies – this includes, but is not limited to, factories, offshore installations, offices, shops, hospitals, hotels and places of entertainment. PUWER also applies in common parts of shared buildings and temporary places of work such as construction sites. While the Regulations cover equipment used by people working from home, they do not apply to domestic work in a private household.
What do the Regulations require me to do?
You, as an employer must ensure that the work equipment you provide meets the requirements of PUWER. You should ensure that it is:
- suitable for use, and for the purpose and conditions in which it is to be used;
- maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk; and
- inspected, in certain circumstances, to ensure that it is, and continues to be, safe for use. Any inspection should be carried out by a competent person (this could be an employee if they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to perform the task) and a record kept until the next inspection.
You should also ensure that risks created by using the equipment are eliminated where possible or controlled as far as reasonably practicable by:
- taking appropriate ‘hardware’ measures, eg providing suitable guards, protection devices, markings and warning devices, system control devices (such as emergency stop buttons) and personal protective equipment; and
- taking appropriate ‘software’ measures such as following safe systems of work (eg ensuring maintenance is only performed when equipment is shut down), and providing adequate information, instruction and training about the specific equipment. A combination of these measures may be necessary depending on the requirements of the work, your assessment of the risks involved, and the practicability of such measures.
Why is machinery safety important?
Working with machinery may be dangerous as moving machinery can cause injuries in many ways:
- People can be hit and injured by moving parts of machinery or ejected material. Parts of the body can also be drawn into or trapped between rollers, belts and pulley drives.
- Sharp edges can cause cuts and severing injuries, sharp-pointed parts can stab or puncture the skin, and rough surface parts can cause friction or abrasion.
- People can be crushed both between parts moving together or towards a fixed part of the machine, wall or other object, and two parts moving past one another can cause shearing.
- Parts of the machine, materials and emissions (such as steam or water) can be hot or cold enough to cause burns or scalds and electricity can cause electrical shock and burns.
- Injuries can also occur due to machinery becoming unreliable and developing faults due to poor or no maintenance or when machines are used improperly through inexperience or lack of training.
Dos and don’ts of machinery safety
As the dutyholder you should ensure that all employees likely to use machinery understand and follow these dos and don’ts:
✔ check the machine is well maintained and fit to be used, ie appropriate for the job, working properly and all the safety measures are in place – guards, isolators, locking mechanisms, emergency off switches etc;
✔ use the machine properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions;
✔ make sure employees are wearing the appropriate protective clothing and equipment, required for that machine, such as safety glasses, hearing protection and safety shoes;
✔ ensure that those who use machinery are competent in health and safety to use it, provide training where necessary. For some machinery a formal qualification is needed.
✘ use a machine or appliance that has a danger sign or tag attached to it. Danger signs should only be removed by an authorised person who is satisfied that the machine or process is now safe;
✘ remove any safeguards, even if their presence seems to make the job more difficult;
✘ wear dangling chains, loose clothing, rings or have loose long hair that could get caught up in moving parts;
✘ distract people who are using machines.
Tool safety training options
Kentra provide training and assessments for numerous items of small plant, portable tools and hand held equipment via a variety of different tool safety courses.
- Abrasive wheels awareness, as a classroom half day session. NPORS registration N301A is available
- Abrasive wheels awareness on-line course available at www.kentraonline.com
- Abrasive wheels – practical cutting and grinding for Angle grinder type machines. NPORS registration N301 is available
- Abrasive wheels – Cut off saw for Stihl saw type machines. NPORS registration N017 is available
- Cable Avoidance Tool Training. NPORS registration N304 is available
- Chainsaw cross cutting and maintenance. NPORS registration N602 is available
- Concrete cutting chainsaw. NPORS registration N025 is available
- Hand arm vibration, available as a classroom or online course course option at www.kentraonline.com
- Hand Held Equipment, a portable power tool safety training course but can also include other toolbox equipment.
- Small Plant and Portable Tools course. NPORS registration P729 is only available through Kentra training, as this is our own unique course prepared and developed for candidates to receive a nationally recognised awarding body registration for items such as: Compressors, Floor Saw, Jack Hammers, Planers, Sanders, Nail Guns, Whacker Plate, Drills – this is not the full list of items we can cover so if you would like more details please just contact us.
- Tool Box Talks Presenter course, to teach you how to present to your staff covering categories such as hand and power tool safety tips.
- Woodworking Machinery. A course more specifically aimed towards wood working equipment such as Lathes, Mortise machines etc.
A course syllabus for any of the above training sessions are available in PDF format to be emailed to you, so if you would like any further details please do not hesitate to contact us. It may be the case that your tools or equipment could fall into a couple of different categories as these courses can overlap so we can help you decide which one will be best for you and your employees.
The above training will ensure that you can prove that you have complied with the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) should the unthinkable happen. Kentra has been established for over 20 years to help you plan and protect your people, let us help you to help them.