PUWER – What does it mean?
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
In simple terms PUWER are the regulations for Equipment that is provided for or to be used in buildings by staff, customers, public visitors or residents who frequent or use a building for whatever purpose whilst there.
As an owner or operator of the building any equipment that is provided for use in the building whether it is a Lift for Residents of a Block of Flats, a Coffee Machine in a Coffee Shop, a Computer in an Office or Evacuation Equipment for use in an Emergency. These will all be covered by the PUWER Regulation.
What are my responsibilities?
- Suitable for intended use – Make sure the equipment is suitable and fit for purpose for its intended use.
- Safe for use – Ensure the equipment is installed correctly, in safe condition before use and is regularly inspected to manage any subsequent deterioration (as manufacturer guidelines)
- Used only by people who have adequate information, instruction or training – As with manufacturer guidelines some items will require specific instruction and training others can be used with instruction i.e. Air conditioning can be used under instruction but operating a coffee machine or evacuation equipment would require specific skilled training.
- Health & Safety measures – Health and Safety measures and instructions will accompany all equipment provided and must be adhered to. These will also detail any protective devices and controls. Emergency Stop Instructions, devices and adequate means of isolation from sources of energy. They will provide clear instruction and details of clearly visible markings and warning devices along with general advice on safe operation.
- Used in accordance with specific requirements – for mobile work equipment moving between premises.
Some equipment may be covered by addition legislation
Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of LOLER, pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations and personal protective equipment must meet the PPE Regulations .
So, What does this mean for Evacuation Equipment?
Once you adopt the relevant evacuation equipment for your building you must ensure the following.
- It is suitable for the building – you must assess the building and how the equipment fits and works in the stairwells and moves. Some stairwells will suit different types and styles of equipment better.
- It is suitable for its intended passengers – Different styles of equipment will be more suitable for different passengers depending on their level of mobility. One type of evacuation chair is not suitable for all types of passenger
- It is suitable for the intended operators – All equipment can be used by most operators once training is conducted and provided. However, some equipment such as motorised units offer far more assistance to the operator when in use.
- You must provide the relevant number of trained personnel for use with your equipment whilst your building is in operation. i.e. You must cover the buildings operational hours:– If you are a hotel this will be 24 Hour cover
– if you are a school this will be whilst pupils are in attendance
– if you are a business this will be during your opening hours and whilst any member of staff is present in your building and requires assisted evacuation.
- You must also ensure that the equipment is in a safe condition for use at its intended time of need. This means you must regularly maintain the equipment in accordance with the manufacturer guidelines. For evacuation equipment, they require an annual maintenance service.
- If you need to use the equipment for any reason at all it must only be used by trained personnel. The equipment must be within its current service schedule and be checked for any obvious issues by the operator before loading your intended passenger and using.
- The equipment provided must, to the best of its ability, be the most suitable type for its intended passenger and operator.
All reputable Evacuation equipment suppliers will provide the following help for your building:
- Variety of Evacuation Products and options
- Building Assessments
- Full Certified Training Programmes
- Full Maintenance Contracts for all Equipment types
- Advice and Best practice
- Full Product, Training and Maintenance Support
If you are unsure, please take advice from the HSE or contact a reputable evacuation equipment supplier before purchasing you equipment, Training or maintenance contract. The HSE guide to Puwer can be downloaded here.