Use of Equipment at Work

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations came into force in December 1998 and replaced the previous regulations of the same name.

The main aims of the regulations is to provide a legal framework for the equipment used in various workplaces and also to provide legal duties associated with the provision of equipment on various bodies. Most importantly the regulations ensure that when equipment is used it is used in a safe way.

What is meant by Work Equipment?

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations define work equipment as meaning any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not). This is a wide definition and includes things like tractors, lab equipment, machinery and even photocopiers.

The 1998 Regulations cover installations for the first time which means such things as  scaffolding, access equipment and safety devices are covered as work equipment.

The following are examples of things are not covered within the definition however:

  • Livestock
  • Private motor vehicles
  • Substances
  • Structural Items – for examples walls, roofs, stairs etc

What is meant by Use?

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations define use as meaning any activity involving work equipment and includes starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning.

This again is a wide definition and covers all activities associated with any kind of work equipment.

General Duties

Part II of the Provision and Use of Equipment Regulations provides a list of general duties which will be imposed on every employer when concerned with work equipment.



  • Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
  • How often maintenance will be required and in what form will depend on the specific equipment with the only requirement being that the performance of the machinery does not deteriorate to put a competent person at risk.


Inspections must be carried out following installation in order to verify that the equipment has been installed correctly and is safe to operate. Where a risk assessment has been carried out by a department which has identified a significant risk of injury due to the installation of specific equipment the department must arrange for a suitable inspection to be carried out by a competent person and then recorded.

Information Instructions

  • Each department responsible for a specific piece of equipment must ensure that each person, who uses, supervises or manages that piece of equipment will have adequate health and safety information and instructions available to them.
  • Significant Risk – where the use of equipment may pose a significant risk the instructions should be in writing fully detailing any foreseeable risks and the procedures to deal with these risks.

Specific Risks

Where equipment is said to pose a specific risks employers should ensure that only that person who has been designated to use that equipment may use it and that repairs, modifications or servicing of that equipment remains the sole duty of those who have been specifically designed to perform duties of that description.


Any person who uses, supervises or manages the equipment must have received adequate training which takes into account the risks involved and the particular circumstances of the equipment. It will be the duty of every employer to ensure that this happens.

Specific Duties

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations place specific duties on various departments concerned with specific machinery. They are as follows:

  • Measures must be taken to protect against and minimalise contact with dangerous parts of machinery.
  • Measures must be taken to protect against a list of hazards specified in the Regulations such as but not limited to: disintegration, ejection or explosion.
  • Measures must be taken to protect against injury which may occur from exposure to very high and very low temperatures.
  • Where it is appropriate to do so work equipment must come equipped with requisite controls for start, stop and emergency stop and also with safe control systems.
  • Where it is appropriate to do so provision must be made for safe and effective isolation of work equipment from all its sources of energy.
  • Equipment which has the possibility of falling, overturning or collapsing must be made stable at all times.
  • There must be suitable and sufficient lighting provided at all work equipment.
  • The above duties will remain a key part of any risk assessment undertaken in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Mobile Work Equipment

Part III of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations deal specifically with mobile work equipment. An example of this being a fork-lift truck.

Power Presses

Part IV of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations deal specifically with power presses. In some instances these regulations do not apply to power presses so care will need to be taken to fully examine the regulations when concerned with this kind of work equipment.