What is a PUWER assessment?
A PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) assessment is a legal requirement in the UK that assesses whether equipment used in the workplace is safe for employees to use. It involves thoroughly examining equipment used in the workplace to ensure that it is safe for employees to use. The assessment includes the following steps:1. Identification of the work equipment that needs to be assessed. 2. Inspection of the equipment to check for any faults, damage, or wear and tear. 3. Evaluation of the risks associated with the use of the equipment and the measures in place to control those risks. 4. Determination of whether the equipment meets current safety standards and regulations. 5. Recommendations for improvements or maintenance that need to be carried out to ensure the equipment is safe for use. The PUWER assessment can be conducted by a competent person within the company or by an external specialist. It is important to conduct regular assessments to ensure that the equipment being used in the workplace is safe and in compliance with current safety standards and regulations.
Why do we do PUWER assessments?
By conducting regular assessments, businesses can create a safer environment for their employees, minimize the risk of accidents, and prevent potential legal issues. The assessment aims to do this by making sure equipment is properly maintained, used, and inspected. It is also a statutory requirement for all businesses that use work equipment, including machinery, tools, and vehicles to carry out periodic assessments under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
By validating the safety of equipment used in the workplace against current BS EN standards, the assessment aims to minimize the risk of injuries that can occur from equipment use. Conducting regular PUWER assessments helps businesses to create a safer working environment for their employees, minimize the risk of accidents, and prevent potential legal issues. It also ensures that equipment is in compliance with current safety standards and regulations, which can improve the efficiency and productivity of the workplace.
When should we do a PUWER assessment
Assessments should be conducted regularly to ensure that equipment used in the workplace is safe for employees to use. The frequency of assessments depends on the type of equipment being used and the level of risk associated with its use. Assessments should be conducted when: 1. New equipment is introduced into the workplace 2. Equipment is moved to a new location 3. Equipment is modified or upgraded 4. There is a change in the way the equipment is used 5. A significant amount of time has passed since the last assessment. Looking into a bit more detail:-
New equipment - Every piece of new equipment in the workplace must be provided with a CE mark. That's an identifying mark that highlights the manufacturer of the machine and the relevant BS/ISO standards that that particular piece of equipment complies with. If it doesn't have this mark, then the equipment is not legally allowed to be put into commercial use. Be careful! Some equipment can come with a declaration of incorporation. This is equipment used to build a much larger machine, such as a strapping machine or taping machine. In these instances, the system builder uses the incorporations to build a comprehensive declaration of conformity for the entire assembly. If the system builder does not have a UK office, then the onus is on the importer of the equipment to provide the CE marking, this could be you! The end user.
Equipment moved to a new location - Every time fixed equipment is moved to a new location, it needs to be assessed. This is because of changes in environmental factors. There could be operating temperature differences, interfering machinery in the vicinity, or other environmental influences that affect the operation of the equipment. It's important to re-assess all the guarding since the new location may include convenient stepovers or other avenues to unintentionally bypass the safety features of a machine.
Equipment modified or upgraded from manufacturer spec - Every time a machine is modified or upgraded, no matter how large all small, should be re-assessed for compliance against the relevant standards. Speeds of machinery and products have a huge influence on the safety distances of guarding and other protective measures so simple changes could actually lead to a dangerous situation! That's why it's always important to risk assess all modifications before implementation and then validate all changes with a PUWER assessment on completion.
There is a change in the use - Manufacturers make machines with a use in mind. When the customer changes that use, for instance in extrusion. A machine may be built to extrude heavy clays to create ceramic products. A simple change in the speed of the machinery by changing the shape and design of the product has an impact on the speed at which a product comes out of the machine. As highlighted above, this can impact the safety distances required by equipment to meet BS EN Standards. Diminishing the current CE mark.
A significant time has passed - This part is subjective and based on risk assessment. Your initial assessor will highlight when a new PUWER assessment is recommended. As a guideline, the HSE recommends less than 5 years between assessments. This could be more or less frequently depending on the application. A lower-risk machine may need to be inspected less frequently than a higher-risk machine. The purpose of this time-bound approach is to ensure old machinery doesn't get left behind. What's acceptable today may not be acceptable tomorrow, and we've all got a duty of care to do whats reasonable and practicable!
Who can conduct a PUWER assessment?
Assessments can be conducted by a competent person within the business who has the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to assess the risks associated with the use of equipment. The person conducting the assessment should be able to identify potential hazards and understand the measures required to control those hazards. This person has a huge responsibility in proving the safe operation of equipment on site. That's why many organizations, alternatively, instruct external specialists who are trained and experienced in conducting PUWER risk assessments. These specialists will have the necessary expertise to identify potential hazards and recommend appropriate measures to control those hazards.
It is important to ensure that the person conducting the assessment, whether internal or external, is competent and has the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out the assessment effectively. Here at Leivers, we have a HSE-trained PUWER assessor with over 12 years of experience in manufacturing environments to provide your organization the piece of mind it needs, that the equipment you are operating is safe and efficient. Reach out to Leivers today to book your PUWER assessments.