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Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98)



The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) apply to the provision and use of all work equipment including mobile and lifting equipment. Whilst PUWER applies to all lifting equipment a set of regulations called Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER 98) applies over and above these general requirements and deal with specific hazards and risks associated with lifting equipment and operations.

Work Equipment

The definition of work equipment is very wide. It covers most work equipment used at work including:

  1. 'Tool box' tools such as hammers, knives, trowels etc.
  2. Machines such as drilling machines, circular saws, photocopiers, dumper trucks etc.
  3. Lifting equipment such as hoists, elevated work platforms, lifting slings etc.
  4. Other equipment such as ladders, water pressure cleaners etc.
  5. Installations such as an enclosure for providing sound insulation or scaffolding or similar access equipment.

The regulations apply no matter where the equipment is used.


The regulations impose duties on employers, the self-employed and people who have control of work equipment. This latter can apply where there is not a direct 'employment' relationship between the person who uses the equipment and the person who controls it. For example when a sub-contractor carries out work at another person's premises and uses that persons work equipment or where someone else controls the work equipment but not its use such as a plant hire company.

All those who have duties under the regulations must ensure that the work equipment complies with PUWER 98.

Application to the Construction Industry

In the construction industry work equipment on sites is often used by more than one contractor. Each contractor (including the self-employed) has a duty to ensure that the equipment is safe and its use conform to the regulations.

The same duty is required of those who exercise control over the work equipment or the way it is used. For example those hiring out equipment will often play a leading role in inspecting and maintaining the equipment. On the other hand the users may be more concerned with training their employees to use the equipment safely as the way the equipment is used is clearly their responsibility.

It is therefore essential that the hirers and users co-operate to ensure that both meet their obligations under the regulations.

Other Provisions
Suitability, Maintenance and Inspection

Briefly, the regulations lay down that the work equipment must be suitable for its purpose, must be maintained in an efficient state and regularly inspected by a competent person. These inspections should be after the equipment is first installed and before it is brought into use for the first time. Where it is used in conditions which could lead to deterioration which could cause dangerous situations to arise it should be inspected at suitable intervals. It should be inspected each time something exceptional has occurred which could jeopardise its safety. Records of each inspection should be kept.

Specific Risks

Where a specific risk to health and safety exists the risk must (wherever possible) be controlled by:

  1. Eliminating the risk, and where this is not possible
  2. Taking hardware measures to control it i.e. suitable guards, and where this is not possible
  3. Taking appropriate 'software' measures to deal with any residual risk such as following a safe system of work and provided instruction, information and training to users of the equipment

Information, Instruction and Training

Every employer must ensure that those using work equipment, and those responsible for supervising its use are provided with adequate health and safety information and, where appropriate, written instructions regarding its use.

Every employer must ensure that those using work equipment, and those responsible for supervising its use are given adequate health and safety training. This should include training in the methods to be used when using the equipment, any risks that such use may entail and the precautions to be taken to avoid such risks.


Five of the regulations are devoted to the controls of work equipment. These are the controls needed to operate powered machinery but can include the controls of, for example, an oven or x-ray machine, which have no moving parts but could constitute a risk. Emergency stop controls and control systems and the need to provide an easily accessible and readily identified means of isolating the work equipment from the source of energy are also covered.

Stability, Lighting, Maintenance Operations, Markings and Warnings

  1. Every employer must ensure that work equipment or any part of it is stabilised where necessary for the purposes of safety and health.
  2. Suitable and sufficient lighting must be provided at any place where work equipment is used.
  3. Where it is reasonably practicable work equipment must be so constructed that maintenance operations can be carried out whilst the equipment is shut down. In other cases such work must not expose the person carrying out the work to risks to his health and safety, or, if this is not possible appropriate protection measures must be carried out.
  4. Employers must ensure that work equipment is clearly marked with any appropriate health and safety markings.
  5. Employers must ensure that work equipment incorporates unambiguous, easily seen and easily understood warnings that are appropriate for health and safety.

Mobile Work Equipment

Mobile work equipment is defined as that equipment which carries out work whist moving or which moves between different locations where it is used to carry out work. This equipment would normally move on wheels, tracks, skids, rollers etc. It may be self propelled, towed or remote controlled and it may have attachments.

Persons Carried on Mobile Work Equipment

Such equipment must incorporate features which reduce to as low as reasonably practicable risks to safety and must be suitable for carrying persons.

Speed Adjustment

If work needs to be carried out during the journey, speeds must be adjusted accordingly.

Rolling Over of Mobile Work Equipment

Employers must ensure that where there is a risk to an employee riding on mobile work equipment from it rolling over the risk is minimised by:

  1. Stabilising the work equipment.
  2. Providing a structure which ensures that the work equipment does no more than fall on its side.
  3. Provide a structure that gives sufficient clearance to the person being carried if the work equipment overturns further than on its side.
  4. Provide a device giving comparable protection.
  5. Where there is a risk of anyone riding on the equipment being crushed by the equipment rolling over, a suitable restraining system must be provided.

Overturning of Fork-lift Trucks

Employers must ensure that any fork-lift truck which carries an employee shall be adapted or equipped to reduce to as low a level as is reasonably practicable the risk to safety should it overturn.

Self Propelled Work Equipment

  1. Where such equipment may involve a risk to the safety of persons it must have facilities to prevent it from being started by unauthorised persons.
  2. Where there is more than one item of rail-mounted work equipment in motion at the same time there are facilities to minimise the consequences of a collision.
  3. Such equipment must have a device for braking and stopping.
  4. Where safety constraints so require readily accessible emergency controls must be available to brake and stop the equipment in the event of a failure of the main facility.
  5. Where a driver's vision is inadequate to ensure health and safety visibility aids or other suitable devices must be provided as far, as is reasonably practicable.
  6. In situations where mobile work equipment is to be used in the dark appropriate lighting must be provided to allow the equipment to be used safely.
  7. Where escape from self-propelled work equipment in the event of a fire could not be achieved easily, suitable fire fighting equipment must be provided.

Remote Controlled Self-propelled Work Equipment

Every employer shall ensure that where remote-controlled self-propelled work equipment involves a risk to safety whilst in motion:

  1. It stops automatically once it leaves its control range.
  2. Where the risks is of crushing or impact it incorporates features to guard against such risk unless other appropriate devices are able to do so.

Drive Shafts

Where the seizure of a drive shaft between mobile work equipment and its accessories or anything towed is likely to involve a risk to safety every employer shall:

  1. Ensure that the work equipment has a means of preventing such seizure or
  2. Where such seizures cannot be avoided take every possible measure to avoid an adverse effect on the safety of an employee.
  3. Where mobile work equipment has a shaft for the transmission of energy between it and other mobile work equipment and the shaft could become soiled or damaged by contact with the ground while uncoupled the work equipment must have a system to safeguard the shaft.

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