Basic information about the roles and responsibilities of product suppliers and importers of work equipment, and any others hiring out or otherwise providing equipment.
All suppliers must supply safe work equipment, whether this is new, second-hand or hired out. They should make reasonable checks that the products they supply are safe, including - as is required in most cases - making sure the product is CE marked and supplied with relevant information, including the instructions for use.
First importers from outside the EEA of ready-to-use new products subject to European product safety law which are not CE marked will have to take on the full responsibilities for product conformity, including CE marking, before they can place new products on the market. This will also apply to users who directly import new equipment from outside the EEA for use in their own workplace.
Hirers have additional ongoing duties for the health and safety of the products they hire out in the course of their business, whether they are used at work or not. These include maintaining the equipment, providing information on how to use it and, in some cases (eg electrical or lifting equipment, pressure plant and safety harnesses), ensuring the product is thoroughly examined for safety before it is made available for use.
If you are concerned about the safety of a new product because of its design or construction, or if it is not complete, you should firstly contact the manufacturer to remedy the matter and consider making the product unavailable until this is remedied. Where there is a significant risk to safety or health, you should (where possible) contact anyone previously supplied to make them aware of your concerns. In these cases you should also contact the relevant market surveillance authority, providing full details.
New work equipment, and second-hand equipment not previously used in the EEA, is subject to UK law which implements common European requirements for safety and health. These requirements also apply to any work equipment (new or otherwise) not previously placed on the European market, such as machinery imported directly from outside the EEA. Most new equipment must be supplied CE marked with user instructions in English and accompanied by a unique certificate known as a Declaration of Conformity. New partly completed machinery will not be CE marked but must be supplied with a Declaration of Incorporation and suitable instructions.
Work equipment which is not new, but has previously been used in the EEA, is subject to section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) in that - so far as reasonably practicable - it must be safe and pose no risk to health when being used, set, cleaned or maintained as intended. Instructions for safe use must also be provided, together with any subsequent revisions of that information necessary for continuing safety.
People hiring out or supplying equipment as part of a work activity, such as plant hire companies and landlords of premises with fixed equipment, also have continuing responsibilities for the safety of those using that equipment, under section 6 of the HSW Act and other health and safety law. These responsibilities include the maintenance of all work equipment, the inspection of equipment which may be subject to deterioration, and the statutory examination of certain equipment (eg of domestic gas appliances, lifting equipment, and pressure plant).
Where it becomes known that something about a product poses a serious risk to health or safety, you should take the necessary steps to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that those people previously supplied are informed (see section 6(1)d of the HSW Act). This will enable existing users of the product to take action and prevent further harm resulting.