Mobile work equipment

Mobile work equipment - including self-propelled, remote-controlled work equipment - is subject to specific requirements in addition to the requirements for normal work equipment, which cover:

  • the suitability of equipment used for carrying people
  • the minimising of rollover risk
  • the provision of equipment to restrain or protect people (in the event of rollover or overturn)
  • the control of the equipment, including operator vision and lighting (where required for safety)

What you must do

If you have mobile work equipment or provide it for someone else's use (eg hiring it out), you must manage the particular risks arising from its mobility - in addition to all the other requirements of PUWER (including suitability, maintenance, inspection, training / information and general safety measures).

Most mobile work equipment manufactured in recent years will already be provided with the physical measures for safety required by PUWER. However, you should still ensure that people are only carried by mobile work equipment suitable for that purpose, with features to reduce safety risks (as far as reasonably practicable) such as seats, restraints and rollover protection.

Where there is a risk of rollover, this should be minimised by stabilising the work equipment, with a structure provided - such as a ROPS (rollover protective structure) - with sufficient clearance for anyone being carried. Where there is a risk of crushing, a suitable restraint system should always be provided for anyone being carried, unless such a system would:

  • increase the overall risk to safety
  • make the equipment significantly more difficult to operate (and thus not be reasonably practicable)
  • not be reasonably practicable to put in place (eg for very old equipment, in use at work before 5/12/1998)

Fork lift trucks with either a mast or ROPS should, if not already fitted, be provided with restraint systems (eg a seat belt) where appropriate, if such systems can be fitted to the equipment, to prevent workers carried from being crushed between any part of the truck and the ground, should it overturn.

Those who provide self-propelled work equipment must ensure it has:

  • facilities to prevent the equipment being started by unauthorised people
  • facilities to minimise the consequences of collision, where there is more than one rail-mounted item in motion at the same time
  • a device for braking and stopping
  • (where required) emergency facilities for braking and stopping, operated by readily accessible controls or automatic systems - in the event of failure of the main facility
  • adequate devices for improving driver vision, so far as reasonably practicable, where the driver's direct field of vision is inadequate to ensure safety - modern CCTV systems can be very effective where mirrors are found to be inadequate
  • appropriate lighting, where used at night or in dark places, so the work activity can be carried out safely
  • carries (or have located close by) appropriate fire-fighting equipment, when carrying or towing anything which could present a fire hazard and endanger employees

Those who provide remote-controlled, self-propelled work equipment must:

  • ensure there is a means to stop it safely and automatically when it leaves its control range, if it presents a risk to safety while in motion
  • provide features to safeguard against crushing or impact with other machinery, obstacles or people

Where the seizure of a drive shaft - between mobile work equipment and its accessories or anything being towed - is likely to involve a risk to safety, it must have means either to prevent seizure or the adverse effects of seizure. Means should also be provided to safeguard the shaft from soiling or damage from contact with the ground while uncoupled.

What you should know

The requirements for mobile work equipment in PUWER (regulations 25-30) are in addition to the general obligations under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act in providing safe plant (equipment). The PUWER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (ACOP) gives authoritative guidance on the Regulations.

The requirements of PUWER and its ACOP dovetail with the essential health and safety requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, concerning hazards from the mobility of machinery (as implemented by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 - see Schedule 2). These essential health and safety requirements must be met by the manufacturer when designing and constructing mobile machinery. This means that end users should not need to further modify new mobile work equipment in order for it to comply with PUWER.

Where mobile work equipment is designed primarily for travel on public roads, compliance with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations will normally be sufficient in complying with the main mobile equipment aspects of PUWER.

What about older non-compliant mobile work equipment?

Some older mobile work equipment may originally not have been provided with those safety features required by PUWER since 5 December 2002. For example, they may lack rollover protection or a suitable restraint system to reduce the risk of injury in the event of overturning. Where such safety features can easily be added (eg fork lift trucks with suitable seat belt anchorages), these should be provided, and their use should be compulsory.

However, in some cases, fitting new safety equipment may not be practicable but the continued use of non-compliant mobile work equipment should only be justified in very limited cases, which should be determined through risk assessment. The hire of non-compliant mobile work equipment should no longer be taking place, except in very exceptional circumstances where the risks of rollover and overturn are negligible.

Additional visual aids to improve driver visibility, especially when reversing (eg mirrors, CCTV to provide vision in blind spots) will be reasonably practicable and cost-effective upgrades in many cases. If not already provided, such safety measures should be fitted to reduce the risks of collision with other vehicles, structures or people (which often result in fatalities). Even companies with large inventories of older mobile work equipment should by now have phased in the introduction of all necessary safety measures, as part of a programme of safety improvements to manage these significant risks.

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Updated: 2023-02-13