Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998: some salutary lessons

By Carl Dray

After more than half a century of detail machine guarding legislation, the number of prosecutions that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes each year as a consequence of injuries caused by inadequate guarding remains astonishing. The recently publicised increase in magistrates’ fining powers is unlikely to have any major impact. Industry should look urgently at its response to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWR) and act to avoid the unnecessary harm it is doing to its workers and the damage it is doing to its own business to lost time accidents, fines, claims and rising insurance premiums.

A first step would be to look at your business procedures on machine guarding and other aspects of PUWR and review them against the current HSE-approved code of practice and HSE guidance for your industry. However, two recent cases highlight the need to think ‘outside of the box’ when assessing the suitability of work equipment. In both cases, the courts interpreted how the regulations ought to be considered in light of the European directives from which they were born…

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