Work Equipment Suppliers - Frequently asked questions

The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.

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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 product supply regulations and therefore should:

  • have appropriate conformity marking and be correctly labelled
  • (usually) come with a Declaration of Conformity
  • be supplied with user instructions, in English

Where a product is only partly completed machinery, as defined by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2018 and intended for assembly with other equipment to form machinery to which those regulations apply, it must be accompanied by assembly instructions and a Declaration of Incorporation should be provided instead of a Declaration of Conformity.

In some cases suppliers take on the manufacturer's or importer's role, eg where goods are re-branded by a distributor in its own name, or are being placed on the market for the first time.

All economic operators, be they manufacturers, importers or distributors have other responsibilities for product traceability, undertaking testing/examination, and to managing  risk and non-compliance for products already placed on the market, by taking action to ensure compliance, withdraw and recall the product from the market in appropriate cases, and to notify and cooperate with the authorities when required.

All articles for use at work, including those supplied second-hand, are 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 relevant product supply legislation applies, you should ensure that products have appropriate conformity marking and are correctly labelled, with user instructions in English and (in most cases) accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity. Partly completed machinery should be accompanied by assembly instructions and a Declaration of Incorporation. Electrical equipment subject to the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations should be appropriately marked and labelled 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.

However, suppliers are NOT expected to:

  • check the product's design against the applicable essential requirements
  • unbox and check every item supplied
  • assemble boxed items to make such checks

In all cases suppliers of articles for use at work 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 does not have appropriate conformity marking and labelling but should be because it comes in scope of relevant product supply legislation, the person/organisation placing it on the market (or bringing it into use, eg in the case of direct imports), must comply with the requirements of the relevant product legislation as if they were the manufacturer and / or importer.

These requirements apply to both new and second-hand products not previously placed on the market. However, if the product was originally placed on the market prior to the implementation of the relevant product legislation, it only needs to meet the requirements of section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (unless it is machinery which has been so substantially modified it must be considered 'new' machinery subject to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008).

Updated: 2021-11-12