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Frequently asked questions


What are the main requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)?

The main requirements are essentially that any risks to people's health and safety arising from the use of work equipment are prevented or controlled by:

  • selecting and providing the right equipment for the job
  • ensuring work equipment is safely used by trained people
  • inspecting and maintaining work equipment so it remains safe

These requirements must be met by employers, the self-employed and by people who have control over work equipment. There are also other more detailed requirements in PUWER, for example compliance with European Community requirements and the guarding of dangerous parts. There are particular provisions in PUWER relating to mobile work equipment, woodworking machinery and power presses.

What is work equipment?

Work equipment is any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work, whether exclusively used at work or not. The scope of work equipment is therefore extremely wide.

What training is required to use work equipment?

Training must be sufficient to ensure that all people know how to competently use any equipment they use at work, without unnecessary risks to the health and safety of themselves or others. Training therefore depends on the task, and to what extent an employee already has relevant knowledge and experience. Individual training needs are likely to be greatest when a person is first recruited, although further training may also be required in any of the following examples:

  • if the work task and its associated risks change
  • if new technology or equipment is introduced
  • if the system of work changes

In many industrial sectors, there are well-recognised standards for training, whether delivered in-house or by external providers. These are often accompanied by some form of competence assessment to help ensure minimum standards of attainment. However, for many simple tasks, on-the-job training, which is locally assessed and backed up with simple records, will suffice. There will also be a need for refresher training to ensure that skills don't decline. Again, the nature and frequency of refresher training should be sufficient to ensure ongoing health and safety, so far as reasonably practicable.

Do I need training to prepare work equipment?

Yes. You need to be appropriately trained to prepare and check work equipment, but this doesn't always mean formal, certificated training. Often the work to prepare or check equipment prior to use can be carried out following manufacturer's instructions using basic skills and common sense. However, for certain types of equipment, there are well-recognised industry schemes that cover, for example, the mounting of abrasive wheels. There are also certain equipment-specific legal requirements (for example, the training of setters and people undertaking daily inspections on power presses, see: Safe use of power presses ACOP and Guidance).

Who should carry out maintenance?

Maintenance work should only be undertaken by those who are competent to do so, who have the necessary knowledge and experience to:

  • know what to look at
  • know what to look for
  • know what to do, and
  • be aware of, and able to avoid, unnecessary risks to themselves and others

In some cases, workers undertaking maintenance on certain types of equipment should have specific training which is relevant to that work (eg where they may encounter asbestos).

Do I have to keep a maintenance log?

There is no requirement to keep a maintenance log. However, it is recommended that employers keep records of maintenance for high-risk equipment. The law requires that, where a maintenance log exists, it should be kept up to date.

Why do I have to inspect work equipment?

As an employer, you are legally required to provide safe equipment for use in connection with your work. Where the safe of equipment depends on the installation conditions or is exposed to conditions causing deterioration liable to result in dangerous situations, you must inspect your equipment to identify whether it can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely. Doing this on a regular basis can help you detect any deterioration and take action before it results in any health and safety risk.

In a few cases - such as power presses working on cold metal (referred to in regulation 33 of PUWER) - the law requires inspection of certain aspects at prescribed intervals. Further guidance is available in: Safe use of power presses  ACOP and Guidance.

How often do I have to inspect work equipment?

Inspection frequencies depend on the type of work equipment, its use and the conditions to which it is exposed. This should be determined through:

  • risk assessment, taking full account of any manufacturer's recommendations
  • the advice of others, such as trade associations and consultants
  • other sources, such as published advice on health and safety

Different types of inspection include:

  • quick checks before use (eg the condition of electric cables on hand-held power tools, functional testing of brakes)
  • weekly checks (eg tyre pressures, presence of guarding, function of safety devices)
  • more extensive examinations, undertaken every few months or longer (eg the general condition of a ladder, close examination of a safety harness, portable appliance testing).

You should do what is necessary to ensure a reasonable level of safety with any item of work equipment.

What do I have to do when inspecting equipment?

Inspection procedures will differ, depending upon the equipment and the consequences of its failure. Inspections therefore need to be determined through risk assessment, which should take full account of any manufacturer's recommendations, the advice of others (such as trade associations and consultants) and other sources of information, such as published advice on health and safety. Inspection should be undertaken for the purpose of revealing any problems which will give rise to significant risk of injury. It is important that inspections concentrate on the safety-critical features, checking for general signs of damage and deterioration which could lead to significant personal injury.

What are the guarding standards for machinery?

The law requires that access to dangerous parts should be prevented, or the movement of dangerous parts stopped before a person enters the danger zone. 

New machinery must be designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent risks of contact which could lead to accidents. Machinery must, where risks persist, be fitted with guards or protective devices. However, these objectives can't always be completely met (eg part of the blade of a fully guarded circular saw necessarily remains accessible).

Both PUWER and the Machinery Directive set out a common hierarchy of protective measures that should be met to state-of-the-art protective standards for particular products. Lesser protective measures are only permitted by the Regulations / Directive where risk cannot be either averted by design or controlled by permanent physical features (such as effective guarding). Lesser protective measures include:

  • adjustable guards, jigs and push sticks
  • safe systems of work
  • warnings of residual risk

There are many European standards outlining acceptable levels of safety for new machinery. However these cannot be applied retrospectively to pre-1995 non-CE marked machinery. For such older machinery, the relevant standard was BS 5304:1988 'Code of practice for the safety of machinery', the text of which remains available from the British Standards Institution as a Published Document (PD 5304:2005).

Can I use a safe system of work instead of guarding?

In some restricted circumstances, a safe system of work may be an acceptable alternative to guarding, but only following an adequate risk assessment which fully justifies why the normal safeguards cannot be used - and after all alternative measures have been put in place to ensure safety. This should be authorised by the person in overall control of the work. Additional training, higher levels of supervision and other protective measures will almost certainly be required and need to be documented. Adopting safe systems of work cannot simply be used as an excuse for not using the safeguards provided by the manufacturer.

Can I operate machinery if I've taken medication?

This depends on various factors, including the nature of the medication and the task to be performed. The residual level of risk from operating some very well guarded machines may be so low that there is minimal risk of injury to the operator or others. However, in other cases - particularly with the use of lifting and mobile work equipment - a more cautious approach needs to be taken.

Advice should be sought from a medically qualified person (normally the person's own GP), particularly if the medication:

  • gives warnings about the operation of machinery, or
  • has significant side effects, which may affect alertness, concentration or response to danger

Does work equipment need to be marked with a safe working load?

Where the safe use of work equipment depends on it not being overloaded, markings or other indications of a safe working load (SWL) will be required (for example, storage racking, some containers used to hold goods or vehicles intended for carrying materials). SWL marking is mandatory for lifting equipment and accessories subject to the provisions of LOLER.


What does LOLER apply to?

LOLER (the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) apply to any lifting equipment used at work - including employees' own lifting equipment - for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it. However, the Regulations do not extend to fixed anchor points that form part of a building or structure.

LOLER covers a wide range of equipment, including:

  • cranes
  • fork-lift trucks
  • lifts
  • hoists
  • mobile elevating work platforms
  • vehicle inspection platform hoists

The Regulations also include lifting accessories, such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc. LOLER does not apply to escalators, which are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

When do the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply?

LOLER applies to work equipment used for lifting operations (ie 'operations concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load'). The Regulations also apply to the safe installation, marking and thorough examination / inspection of lifting equipment. These requirements must be met by employers, the self-employed and by people who have control over work equipment. The recording of examinations and inspections is also required by LOLER, and those conducting them have duties under the Regulations for reporting serious defects - both to the user and to the relevant enforcing authority.

What is lifting equipment?

Lifting equipment is any work equipment where the principal function is to lift and lower loads. This term also applies to any accessory used to attach or support the equipment doing the lifting. Equipment that lifts only as an incidental aspect of its main function (eg a pallet truck, or a system for conveying parts through an oven) is not considered lifting equipment.

What is a lifting accessory?

A lifting accessory is any equipment used to attach a load to the lifting equipment, which is not a permanent part of the load (eg hooks, ropes, chains, shackles and eyebolts) or lifting equipment.

Do I need an 'appointed person' for lifting operations?

Regulation 8 of LOLER requires employers to ensure that every lifting operation is:

  • properly planned by a competent person
  • appropriately supervised
  • carried out in a safe manner

The term 'appointed person' is often used to describe the person fulfilling the role of the competent person, who should have adequate practical and theoretical knowledge and expertise in planning the lifting operations being undertaken.

What requirements apply to the use of fork-lift trucks?

When any fork lift is used to lift or lower loads, employers and others who may be in control of the lifting operation must ensure that it is planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner. This doesn't mean a formal plan has to be prepared for every individual lifting operation but, where there is a significant change from standard practice, additional effort may be required to ensure lifting is carried out safely. For further guidance, see: Managing lift trucks.

LOLER requires that the lifting chains, forks, hoist mechanism (ie mast and cylinders) and fork attachments are subject to a thorough examination , either at 12-month intervals or as specified in the written scheme of examination. In addition, as required by PUWER, lift trucks should be maintained at all times for safety, with other parts (eg brakes and lights) being inspected at regular intervals, including essential daily pre-use checks.

Can I use an excavator for lifting?

You can do this as long as:

  • lifting is permitted by the original manufacturer
  • the machine has dedicated lifting points (with safe working load markings)
  • it is used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions
  • has been subject to a thorough examination  

Where the lifting capacity of the machine exceeds one tonne, it should be equipped with a rated capacity indicator and boom check valves.

When can I use a non-integrated platform or 'man-basket'?

A non-integrated platform or man-basket must only be used in exceptional circumstances (eg emergencies), and only in accordance with the guidance in: Working platforms (non-integrated) on fork-lift trucks.

What is a LOLER thorough examination?

This is a complete and thorough check of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person and concluded with a written report. The report must include the date of the thorough examination and the date the next one is due. It should also specify any defects that are / are about to become a danger to people. Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must report this verbally to the dutyholder and then provide this information in a written report. A copy of the report must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority. 

How often should lifting equipment be subject to thorough examination?

Thorough examination of lifting equipment must take place every 12 months - or every 6 months if the equipment is used to lift people. Any accessories used in lifting should also be inspected every 6 months. These are the minimum requirements, where there is no formal 'examination scheme' drawn up by a competent person.

The competent person may impose a more rigorous examination scheme, for example when the lifting equipment:

  • is used in extremes of temperature (eg in a foundry or a freezer)
  • is used in a potentially corrosive environment (eg seafront)
  • is subjected to particularly heavy use
  • could lead to potentially catastrophic consequences if it failed (eg resulting in multiple deaths or the release of dangerous material)

In some cases, the period between thorough examinations may be extended under an 'examination scheme', where either deterioration will be very slow (eg when lifting equipment is only very occasionally used and stored in dry, non-corrosive environments); or when it is one of a very large number of identical items - where a sampling and inspection scheme may be more appropriate.

In addition to these scheduled examinations, equipment will require a thorough examination following:

  • any accident or dangerous occurrence
  • any significant change in conditions of use
  • the replacement of any parts that are subject to thorough examination
  • any long periods of inaction 

My lifting equipment is already serviced regularly. Is a thorough examination still required?

Yes. Thorough examination of lifting equipment must be carried out in all cases, taking place every 12 months; or every 6 months when used to lift people, or for any lifting accessory. The examination intervals may differ, where there is a written scheme drawn up by a competent person, which may specify other intervals that may be shorter or exceptionally longer.

If your service included the fitting of any new parts covered by LOLER then a thorough examination must also be carried out before use. Thorough examination may also be required following any:

  • accident or dangerous occurrence
  • significant change in conditions of use
  • long periods of inaction 

Can the organisation servicing my equipment also carry out the thorough examination?

Yes. But the competent person undertaking the thorough examination should not be the same person who services / maintains the equipment, as they would be responsible for assessing their own work. A competent person should be sufficiently independent and impartial in order to make objective decisions. Although a competent person that undertakes thorough examinations is usually employed by a different company, they may be employed by the equipment user, provided they have sufficient independence to act impartially.

What equipment requires a thorough examination?

The term 'thorough examination' is used by a number of regulations concerned with equipment used at work, including:

  • lifting equipment (regulation 9 of LOLER)
  • power presses (regulation 32 of PUWER)
  • engineering controls, provided to prevent or control exposure to hazardous substances (regulation 9 of COSHH)
  • pressure systems (regulation 9 of PSSR)

In all cases, the purpose of the examination is to verify that the equipment remains safe for continued use. However, it is not a substitute for servicing etc, which must still be undertaken to ensure that 'work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair' (PUWER regulation 5).

What are the requirements for the examination of lifts?

LOLER regulation 9(3) requires that all lifts used at work are thoroughly examined by a competent person at least every 6 months if used to carry people, and at 12-monthly intervals if only used for moving goods, or in accordance with an examination scheme. Thorough examination should also take place if substantial or significant changes are made to the lift, or following exceptional circumstances (such as damage to / failure of the lift or its parts). This is in addition to normal inspections as part of lift servicing and maintenance. Other lifts used by the public should also be subject to similarly stringent requirements to ensure the safety of all users, and so meet the objectives of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Who can undertake a thorough examination?

Thorough examinations must only be undertaken by a competent person - someone who is suitably competent to undertake such work. The term 'competent person' is used in law to distinguish from other people who may just undertake servicing, maintenance and associated inspections.

What is a 'competent person'?

A competent person is someone who has appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the equipment for which they act as 'competent person'. This knowledge and experience can help them detect defects / weaknesses and assess whether they will affect the continued safe use of the equipment.

The competent person must be sufficiently independent and impartial to make objective decisions. However, this should not be the same person who performs routine servicing / maintenance, as they would be responsible for assessing their own work.

A competent person may be employed by a separate company or selected by an employer from their own staff. They should have genuine competence, authority and independence to ensure examinations are properly carried out, so that any recommendations that arise can be made without fear or favour.

Does new lifting equipment have to be thoroughly examined before use?

You must have lifting equipment examined in the following circumstances:

  • Before using it for the first time - unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity which is less than one year old and the lifting equipment was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to confirm that the assembly was correct and safe.
  • After assembly, and before use at each location - for all lifting equipment that requires assembly or installation before use (eg tower crane) - to ensure it has been installed correctly and is safe for use.

Does lifting equipment need to be marked with a safe working load?

Yes. Machinery and accessories for lifting loads must be clearly marked to indicate their safe working loads (SWL). Where the SWL depends on the configuration of the machinery for lifting loads, the machinery must be marked to indicate its SWL for each configuration, or provided with such information which is kept with the machinery.

On chain and wire slings, the SWL should be marked legibly and indelibly on a durable tag or label attached to the sling; or marked on the ferrule or master link.

Where it may not be possible for the marking to show the SWL, there are other ways of 'indicating' the safe working criteria for the equipment. In some cases, a 'surrogate' marking may be acceptable, such as a capacity indicator on an excavator. However, colour coding alone to denote SWL is not normally acceptable, but can be a useful additional feature (eg of textile slings) and may be a key element in the marking of some equipment, such as access and rescue ropes.

Individual lifting accessories forming part of a specific item of lifting equipment (that is not disassembled after use and so remains part of that equipment), do not need to be marked.

However, the lifting equipment must be marked with a SWL rating that is suitable for all items in its assembly.

Further information is given in: Safe use of lifting equipment. ACOP and Guidance (see regulation 7 and paragraph 186 onwards).

What details must be on the thorough examination record?

The contents of a thorough examination report are specified by Schedule 1 of LOLER. There is no longer a defined format or form for such a report, provided that all 11 items listed in Schedule 1 are included. 

Can the report of a thorough examination be kept electronically?

Yes, but security measures should be taken to ensure the report cannot be tampered with, and you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary, such as on request by the relevant enforcing authority.

CE Marking

How do I CE mark my product?

Before CE marking your product, you need to apply the conformity assessment procedure, as specified in the relevant EU Product Supply Directive. The basic process is to carry out a risk assessment, considering all the essential requirements relevant to your product and ensuring you have met them. Standards may help in meeting these requirements, with some standards giving a presumption of conformity to the Directives. As manufacturer, you have to declare the product's conformity with all relevant product supply Directives when you place the product on the market.

For much work equipment, you can carry out this procedure yourself, provided you have access to the necessary engineering expertise, although you may wish to use the services of a consultant. However, for some products - such as those listed in Annex IV of the Machinery Directive, and most lifts, much pressure equipment and all gas appliances - the use of a notified body is required. They will issue you with a certificate of adequacy or conformance. You can then apply the CE mark and issue the required Declaration of Conformity, quoting the notified body's name, address and unique identifier.

Do all new products have to be CE marked?

No. This only applies to those products that come under one of the relevant product supply Directives that require CE marking, for example:

  • machinery
  • lifts
  • pressure equipment
  • low-voltage electrical equipment
  • equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres

Products that do not fall under these Directives - such as manually-powered machinery (except those used for lifting), tools and ladders - must not be CE marked.

Does an assembly line have to be CE marked?

Yes. When you combine a series of complete machines and / or partly completed machines so they operate as a single assembly line (ie under a single control system), you have to:

This must be done for the complete assembly line as a whole, even if each individual machine has its own CE mark. The technical file only needs to contain the design details and drawings of any control systems and other parts you've had to supply or modify, and the Declarations of Conformity / Incorporation for each of the items in the line.

I have modified my machinery. Do I need to re-CE mark it?

In most cases, no. However, you need to ensure it is safe and continues to meet the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER). Depending on the modifications, you may wish to get advice from the original manufacturer and will need sufficient engineering expertise for the type of modifications involved - you may need to bring this in if not available in-house.

However, the machinery will need full conformity assessment and a new CE mark where the modification:

  • is so extensive that the item is basically a new machine
  • affects the function of safety devices or systems, or
  • introduces significant hazardsthat could not have been assessed in the original design, such as converting a manual machine to full computer control

What is a Declaration of Conformity?

A Declaration of Conformity (DoC) is a formal written statement by the manufacturer or their authorised representative, stating that the product meets all relevant product supply Directives (occasionally there may be several DoCs, one for each Directive). For details about the other information that must be included see the Declaration of Conformity page

Can I use my trading name on the DoC?

The Declaration of Conformity and the nameplate on the product must contain the name and details of the legal entity taking fu ll responsibility for the product. If your trading name is registered to your company then it can be used. This can also be done if the product is made by another company. However, if your company name is on the DoC then you have to take on all the manufacturer's duties under the relevant Directive. These duties include supplying technical information on request to any European market surveillance authority, and being fully responsible for the product's design and user information.

What is a Declaration of Incorporation?

A Declaration of Incorporation (DoI) is a formal written statement, very similar to a Declaration of Conformity. However, the DoI states that 'the partly completed machinery must not be put into service until the final machinery into which it is to be incorporated has been declared in conformity with the provisions of this Directive'.

The Declaration of Incorporation may only be issued for partly completed machinery, which cannot operate independently. It enables identification of the original manufacturer of the part and shows the customer that it complies, as far as it is able, with the Machinery Directive.

Instructions for the safe and correct assembly of partly completed machinery must be provided along with the DoI but the product must not be CE marked. When the customer has incorporated the partly completed machinery into a complete machine and CE marked the final assembly, they should place the DoI in their technical file.

Do replacement guards and safety components have to be CE marked?

If such items are supplied independently to customers, including other manufactures who use the items in their own products, they are considered as 'safety components'. Under the Machinery Directive, these must be CE marked and meet the conformity assessment requirements (as if they were machinery). The exceptions are where such components form part of a complete machine (in which case the machine's CE mark covers these items too); or if they are supplied as spare parts by the original machine manufacturer.

Can I demand information from the manufacturer's technical file?

No. This file contains confidential information that the manufacturer does not have to release to their customers. However, manufacturers must supply full instructions for the safe use of the product, as well as certain other information, such as the noise and vibration levels of the machinery, and how to combine the item with other products (if this is envisaged).

European member state market surveillance authorities have the right to demand information from the technical file, but they have a legal duty to keep the relevant information confidential.

If I make a product for my own use, do I need to CE mark it?

It depends on the product but you must CE mark work equipment that comes under the Machinery Directive and make sure it meets all of its essential health and safety requirements - even if it is only for your own use and you have no intention of supplying it to other parties.


What safety requirements must my products meet?

EU product supply Directives cover products such as:

  • machinery
  • lifts
  • pressure systems
  • electrical and personal protective equipment
  • equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres

If any Directive is relevant to your product, then you (or, in some cases, your authorised representative in Europe) must meet all of the essential health and safety requirements of that Directive.

This must be done before you can place the product on the European market, or before you bring it into use for the first time. The essential health and safety requirements are laid out in each European Directive and copied into the UK regulations that implement each Directive. Failure to adequately meet these legal requirements may be a criminal offence, for which (in many cases) the courts can impose unlimited fines.

What do manufacturers have to do?

Before placing products on the European market, manufacturers (or their authorised representative) must:

What does the CE mark mean?

By affixing the CE mark, the manufacturer is claiming that the product complies with all EU Directives applicable to that product. However, CE marking in itself does not guarantee safety, nor is it a quality mark. Intermediate suppliers and users of work equipment can rely on the CE mark giving a presumption of conformity with the relevant product supply Directive(s) (and compliance with regulation 10 of PUWER), provided that the product:

  • is free from clear and obvious defects (ie the ones users are / should be aware of, such as damaged or missing guarding, exposed electrical conductors, etc)
  • comes with suitable instructions
  • comes with (in most cases) a Declaration of Conformity

Where can I find standards that relate to my product?

English versions of European standards are published by the British Standards Institution and copies can be purchased through the BSI website. Other European language versions may be available through the national standards bodies of other member states.

The titles of all harmonised standards that support one or more product supply Directives are definitively published in the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union. A list of the these Directives (with details of their OJ references and links to the standards supporting them) is available on the European Commission website.

What legal status do standards have?

In themselves, most standards only provide guidance. It is the essential requirements of the relevant product supply Directive which must be met in law. However, where a manufacturer declares on the Declaration of Conformity compliance with a transposed harmonised standard, the manufacturer must meet its requirements in full. Full compliance with a transposed harmonised standard gives presumption of conformity with one or more essential requirements of the relevant Directive.

What is 'presumption of conformity'?

Manufacturers normally have to show how their particular product complies with all relevant essential requirements of the EU Directive(s) relating to it. This is done through conformity assessment - which can involve a detailed and complex assessment and the collection of significant evidence in a technical file.

However, where a product fully meets the requirements of a transposed harmonised standard written for that product, or an aspect of safety relevant to that product (eg the safety distances to dangerous parts as given in the relevant transposed harmonised standard), the standard may give the manufacturer a 'presumption of conformity' with one or more essential requirements. In other words, the manufacturer then does not need to show in as much detail how the product complies with the Directive(s). This often shortens and simplifies the conformity assessment process and requires less evidence to be produced for the technical file.

To do this, manufacturers must check that a standard can give a presumption of conformity and their product must be within scope of that standard. The basis on which a standard may give presumption of conformity must be verified (this is normally outlined in Annex Z of the standard but, to be sure, checks can also be made with the reference given in the Official Journal of the European Union, or through published listings).

What is covered by the Machinery Directive?

The Machinery Directive which is implemented in the UK by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, applies to almost all machinery and partly completed machinery. Certain other products (listed in Article 1 and defined in Article 2 of the Directive) also come within scope of the Directive in the same way as machinery:

  • interchangeable equipment
  • safety components
  • lifting accessories
  • chains, ropes and webbing
  • removable mechanical transmission devices

However, some machinery-related products are excluded, under Article 1 of the Directive (eg fairground equipment, certain means of transport, certain electrical and electronic products). Other products may be excluded, where covered by another Directive (such as medical devices which are also machines).

Another key exclusion is machinery powered by human or animal effort. However, lifting machines operated by directly applied human effort remain in scope. For more details, see paragraph 32 onwards of the European Commission Guide to the Machinery Directive.

When do I have to use a notified body?

Many products and most machinery do not have to undergo third-party assessment, completed by a notified body. However, the conformity assessment of certain products requires independent assessment by a notified body, prior to the product being CE marked and placed on the market. This includes certain types of higher risk machinery, equipment and safety components, such as:

  • cableways and their components
  • pressure plant
  • gas appliances
  • lifts
  • equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
  • logic units delivering a safety function
  • protective devices designed to detect the presence of persons

The notified body's assessment may take the form of type examination, quality assurance or other means - as specified for that product by the relevant Product Supply Directive.

What is a Certificate of Compliance or Conformance?

This is a document indicating that, in the opinion of a third party (sometimes a notified body), a product is considered to comply or conform with (usually) a product supply Directive. This certificate should be retained in the technical file for the product. However, this is not to be confused with the Declaration of Conformity, which must be issued by the product manufacturer (or their authorised representative). The Certificate of Compliance or Conformance is not a substitute for the Declaration of Conformity.


What do suppliers have to do?

Intermediate suppliers - for example distributors, agents, retailers and auctioneers - must supply safe and compliant products, with the correct documentation. Most new products come within the scope of one or more EU product supply Directives and therefore should:

However, if a product is only partly completed machinery (intended for assembly with other equipment), it should not be CE marked. For partly completed machinery, a Declaration of Incorporation should be provided instead of a Declaration of Conformity.

Products where CE marking is not required - which may be the case for second-hand products - are still required to be safe, so far as reasonably practicable, and accompanied by adequate information to enable safe use, under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

What checks should I make before I supply equipment?

Where a relevant product supply Directive applies, you should ensure that products are CE marked, with user instructions in English and (in most cases) accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity. Partly completed machinery should not be CE marked and should instead be accompanied by a Declaration of Incorporation. Electrical equipment subject to the Low Voltage Directive should be CE marked with key information provided, but does not need to be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity.

Where reasonable, particularly if you are involved in the assembly or installation of a product, you should also check for any obvious safety defects. Guidance on doing so is given in the Checklist section of HSE's: Supplying new machinery.

However, suppliers are NOT expected to:

  • check the product's design against the applicable essential requirements, if that product is CE marked
  • unbox and check every item supplied
  • assemble boxed items to make such checks

If CE marking is not required for the product - which is the case with most second-hand / refurbished products, as well as any new ones not subject to a relevant product supply Directive - suppliers must comply with the general requirements of section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act:

' supply products that are safe and without risks to health when being used, set, cleaned and maintained and provide user information, so far as reasonably practicable'.

What responsibilities do I have if I import equipment from outside Europe?

If the product is not CE marked but should be because it comes under a relevant product supply Directive, the person / organisation placing it on the European market (or bringing it into use for the first time in Europe), must comply with the requirements of the relevant Directive as if they were the manufacturer.

These requirements are implemented by national law and apply to both new and second-hand products not previously placed on the European market. However, if the product was originally placed on the European market prior to the implementation of the relevant Directive, it only needs to meet the requirements of section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.


What are my responsibilities if I install equipment?

If you are just installing complete equipment supplied by a manufacturer, you should ensure it is installed correctly by following the manufacturer's installation instructions and specifications. In such cases, the equipment should be supplied to you CE marked with a Declaration of Conformity in the name of the manufacturer (or their authorised representative). You should ensure that any damaged or misplaced safety components are replaced (by the equipment manufacturer), and that the equipment is complete and in safe working order. If the item is lifting equipment, it will need to have a LOLER-specific thorough examination prior to first use, to confirm its safe installation. There are also specific requirements relating to the safe installation of gas appliances.

Where you build up the equipment from parts supplied by a number of manufacturers or make some of the components yourself, you will be classed as the manufacturer of the final product. For example, if you motorise existing manually operated gates, they become a new machine for which you are responsible. You will then need to follow the conformity assessment full requirements of the Machinery Directive, including:

  • ensuring the equipment (eg motorised gates) is safe for all foreseeable use and misuse by any person who may come into contact with it
  • compiling and keeping a technical file of your design
  • providing instructions to the user on the operation and maintenance (particularly of the safety features)
  • issuing a Declaration of Conformity in your name
  • applying the CE mark to the completed product

Second-hand products

What law applies to the sale of second-hand work equipment?

Health and Safety at Work Act Section 6 of the applies to all second-hand products. It requires manufacturers (which may include those undertaking refurbishment), importers and suppliers to provide work equipment which is safe and does not present a risk to health, as far as reasonably practicable. This requirement includes the provision of instructions for the safe use of the equipment.

What do I need to know about second-hand equipment?

Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act requires all products supplied for use at work - whether new or second-hand - to be safe, so far as reasonably practicable.

This includes the provision of adequate information to enable safe use and maintenance. CE marking and conformity assessment are not normally required as second-hand products have normally previously been placed on the European (EEA ) market, or put into service in the EEA.

However, second-hand products which have never been placed on the market or put into service in the EEA - such as imports from outside the EEA - may be subject to one or more European product supply Directives as they are 'new' to Europe.  Also, products that are so substantially refurbished as to be considered 'new' because of additional risk, will also be subject to one or more European product supply Directives as if they were new.

Can I sell work equipment 'sold as seen'?

No. If the work equipment is new, it must be sold safe and in compliance with the relevant European product supply Directive(s). If no Directive is applicable, the equipment must comply with section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act). Even if equipment is second-hand, it still can't be 'sold as seen' if it is intended for use at work. All work equipment must be sold safe, so far as reasonably practicable. If originally CE marked, it should only be sold on for use in as safe a condition as when it was originally placed on the market, with a copy of the original instructions.

You may sell equipment in any state for scrap or spare parts, but this should be explicitly confirmed in the transaction record. Dealer-to-dealer and user-to-dealer transactions are not normally 'sales for use at work' and this should be explicitly confirmed in the transaction record.

However, for old non-CE marked work equipment, you may sell this (under section 6(8) of the HSW Act) in an unsafe condition, provided you obtain a written waiver from the purchaser - which essentially means they know what they have to do to, and agree to make the product safe before they bring it back into use.

Does second-hand equipment have to be CE marked?

Unless already CE marked, second-hand equipment only requires new CE marking when it is effectively new to the European market, meaning either:

  • it is non-CE marked equipment, imported from outside the EU (and so being placed on the EU market for the first time)
  • it is equipment so substantially refurbished as to be considered 'new'

Hiring out work equipment

What responsibilities do I have when hiring out work equipment?

Those hiring out equipment for use at work are considered as suppliers under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and so have broad responsibilities for the safety of the products they hire out. This includes (so far as reasonably practicable) pre-hire testing and inspection to ensure continued safety, and the provision of information.

Although they need to look for obvious safety defects (in terms of the initial safety of CE-marked equipment), those hiring out equipment do not have to go into the detailed design of that equipment or enhance its safety beyond the requirements of the relevant product supply Directive - provided the product is CE marked, accompanied by user instructions and, where relevant, a Declaration of Conformity.

Those hiring out work equipment also have responsibilities under PUWER (and if lifting equipment LOLER), in so far as they exercise control over that equipment (for example, ensuring the thorough examination of lifting equipment and other routine inspections have taken place at the required intervals). It may be appropriate for the user to organise the periodic thorough examinations (which should be by written agreement, particularly for long-term hire). However, unless part of the hire agreement, those hiring out work equipment can't normally be responsible for the day-to-day and other pre-use safety checks which should be undertaken by the user.

Purchasing work equipment

What information do I need to consider when buying new equipment?

Before you buy it, think about:

  • where and how it will be used
  • what it will be used for
  • who will use it (skilled employees, trainees etc)
  • what risks to health and safety might result from its use, and
  • how well health and safety risks are controlled by different manufacturers

This can help you decide what equipment may be suitable, particularly when buying standard 'off the shelf' items. If you are buying more complex or custom-built equipment, you should discuss your requirements with potential suppliers, who can advise you on the options available. When you place the order, specify in writing that the equipment must be safe, meet all relevant EU supply Directives and be CE marked.

What checks should I make when installing my new machinery?

Check the machinery is CE marked and accompanied by:

You should also check it is not obviously unsafe (eg missing guards), by assessing the risks that may arise from the way it will be used and maintained.

Updated: 2014-04-17