Selection and conformity of work equipment

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

Find out more

Work equipment must be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided, and used only for operations for which it is suitable. In selecting work equipment, employers must take account of:

  • the working conditions and risk to health and safety from the premises it will be used in
  • who will use the equipment
  • the work equipment itself

New work equipment should conform to any essential requirements for safety applicable to it through product supply law.

What you must do

You must select suitable work equipment and consider:

You should also take account of:

Information produced by the work equipment manufacturer can greatly help in selecting suitable work equipment. Risk assessment will also help in this process, identifying where hazards can be avoided or reduced by selecting suitable work equipment (such as those with lower noise or vibration levels), or in determining the specification of bespoke equipment.

Most new work equipment should comply with common minimum product safety requirements but, before putting it into use, you should still make simple checks:

Information on noise and vibration emissions should be sought early on in the process of selecting new work equipment. By selecting low vibration and lower noise equipment, you can significantly reduce the risks from exposure to these hazards during its use (eg with hand-held power tools and other machinery, such as mobile ride-on plant or static noisy machinery).

If you are buying new machinery, you may find the checklists within the HSE leaflet Buying new machinery helpful when considering the machinery's health and safety characteristics, suitability and conformity with essential requirements for health and safety.

What you should know

PUWER regulation 4 requires that work equipment is:

This builds on the general obligation employers have under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act to provide safe equipment and manage the risks in its use, handling, storage and transport.

In selecting new work equipment, employers also need to be aware of their duty under PUWER regulation 10 (as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2002). This requires employers to ensure that work equipment conforms at all times with any essential requirements relating to its design and construction, by virtue of product supply law.

While you are not expected to assess the detailed design of work equipment, there are certain basic checks which users can and should make when selecting and obtaining new work equipment, including looking for any obvious health and safety issues.

New products subject to product supply requirements should be:

Partly completed machinery should be accompanied by assembly instructions, and a Declaration of Incorporation instead of a Declaration of Conformity. Employers need to keep work equipment in conformity, which means that it is maintained so it remains safe.

Updated: 2023-02-23