The provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) introduced some new requirements that were not in place for its predecessor PUWER 92.

PUWER 92 implemented the first European Community (EC) Directive about work equipment, the Use of Work Equipment Directive (UWED). This required the UK to have the same minimum requirements for the selection and use of work equipment as other EC member states.

PUWER 98 introduced some new requirements and definitions.

Change: an extension of the definition of ‘work equipment’ to include installations;

The definition for work equipment has been updated. The following definition,

“any assembly of components which in order to achieve a common end are arranged and controlled so that they function as a whole”

has been removed and replaced with “installation”. It is interesting to note that this phrase is still used in the machinery directive 2006/42/EC as a part of the definition of an assembly of machines (AOM).

The definition for “work equipment” means any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not).

The inclusion of the term installation further clarified that machinery and equipment that form a part of fixed plant and production lines are included in the scope of PUWER. It had been thought by some previous to this that PUWER was intended for workshop machine tools but not production line machinery. The ACOP now includes an example to give clarity such as, a series of machines connected together. For example, a paper-making line or enclosure for providing sound insulation or scaffolding or similar access equipment.

Change: an extension of the duty holder application to include a duty on people who have control of work equipment such as plant hire;

The extension of the meaning of the term duty holder to include those who have control and not necessarily ownership of work equipment, makes it clear that PUWER is a duty on the employer to ensure that ALL work equipment used by them is safe. Even if equipment is not intended to be used by the employer but is accessible to their employees, in a workspace that is controlled by the employer, the employer should still take account of the risk of unauthorised use by one of their employees.

Change: guidance and ACOP material about regulation 7 (specific risks);

Specific risk has long confused prospective PUWER assessors. Further guidance made it clear that this Regulation is intended to put a duty on the employer to identify where use of work equipment should be restricted to authorised persons due to their being significant risks despite having met the other requirements of PUWER. We have many articles on PUWER, specific risks and how it mirrors closely the residual risks identified during design risk assessment of machinery to BS EN 12100 2010.

Change: various regulation consolidated to Regulation 10 (conformity with Community requirements);

PUWER Regulation 10 supplements the requirement of section 6 of the HSW Act by placing a duty on the user of the work equipment to ensure that the work equipment conforms with European requirements i.e. It is a correctly CE Marked Machine.

Change: Regulation 18 (control systems) received a small update as a result of a change required by AUWED;

These changes apply when choosing or specifying control systems and are primarily targeted at not increasing risk when the control system is operating, either directly or indirectly. For example:

  • impeding the operation of other safety measures


  • increasing risk if a control system fails or loses its power supply.


Change: PUWER 98 revokes the Power Presses Regulations 1965 and amendments (1972), as well as the remaining provisions of the Woodworking Machinery Regulations 1974.

New regulations (part of PUWER 98) replace legislation applying to power presses, and an ACOP and guidance (supporting PUWER 98) has been produced for woodworking equipment.

Change: PUWER 92 is updated to PUWER 98 to include Regulation 6 Inspection.

This introduced the need for the duty holder to ensure inspections are carried out on the work equipment. This acts as an “audit” of both the operator / user checks, which should be carried out as part of good practice and maintenance (servicing) procedures. The general principle is that inspection is needed to identify deterioration that may lead to a significant risk.

The HSE completed an evaluation of the implementation of PUWER 98 and other legislation at the time. Their research pointed to feedback from surveys at the time that raised the following concerns:

As regards to potential concerns and problems, the key points are:

  • Duty holders may have difficulty understanding what is meant by independence and impartiality in inspections.
  • The criteria for deciding whether a risk is tolerable are not obvious.
  • Whilst routine or scheduled inspection and thorough examinations are straightforward, the less frequent demands for thorough examination may result in a greater challenge, such as examination after accidents or modifications.
  • Duty holders may face problems in screening / drawing up action lists for the thorough examination of equipment.
  • Many suppliers have insufficient knowledge of standards and many declarations are incomplete
  • Declarations by manufacturers should reference other applicable directives for that equipment, but very few did so correctly, and;
  • Many firms will consider hiring equipment on the assumption that hire companies will have addressed the regulations.

In the opinion of Spiers many of these concerns have been proven accurate over time. It is our intention to address these issues through the provision of high quality PUWER inspection, PUWER assessor training, RiskMach PUWER inspection and risk assessment software and consultancy.

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