Are you a supplier, importer or hirer of equipment
The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.
Basic information about the roles and responsibilities of product suppliers and importers of work equipment, and any others hiring out or otherwise providing equipment.
What you must do
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 labelled with appropriate conformity marking and supplied with a Declaration of Conformity (and/or Performance or Incorporation in some cases), and relevant information, including the instructions for use.
All economic operators, that is manufacturers, importers or distributors, have specific responsibilities as laid down by the product law applicable to the particular product which must be fulfilled before they can place or make available new products on the market. The importer responsibilities can also apply to users who directly import new equipment 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.
What you should know
New work equipment, and second-hand equipment not previously used in the EEA, is subject to UK law concerning requirements for safety and health by design and construction. Most new equipment must be supplied with appropriate conformity marking, user instructions in English, accompanied by a unique certificate known as a Declaration of Conformity and correctly labelled. New partly completed machinery must not be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity: instead it must be supplied with comprehensive assembly instructions and a Declaration of Incorporation.
Work equipment which is not new, but has previously been used in the UK or 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.
Importers generally have the following obligations
Not to place a product on the market unless it is in conformity and has the correct conformity markings:
- by checking that the manufacturer has applied the correct conformity assessment procedure;
- that each product bears appropriate marking and labelling, including both the name and address of the manufacturer and importer on the products (or the packaging or accompanying documentation if that is not possible);
- is accompanied by the required documents (Instructions and safety information in English).
Importers must keep a copy of the Declaration of Conformity, ensuring it is prepared in, or translated into, English, and make it and the technical documentation available for at least 10 years when it is requested by the authorities. Importers must store the product under conditions which do not jeopardise its conformity, and where appropriate (eg where concerns are raised about safety) carry out sample testing and product monitoring.
Where an Importer considers, or has reason to believe, that the product which that importer has placed on the market is not in conformity, it must immediately take the corrective measures necessary to bring the product into conformity, withdraw the equipment from the market, and/or recall the equipment. Where the product presents a risk, the importer must immediately inform the relevant market surveillance authorities of the risk, giving details of the respect in which the product is considered not to be in conformity, and any corrective measures taken.
Following a request from an enforcing authority, importers must provide the authority with all the information and documentation necessary to demonstrate that the product is in conformity, and cooperate with the relevant authorities to evaluate and eliminate risk posed by the product.
Importers must also ensure traceability of products throughout the distribution chain, in particular by identifying to the authorities any other economic operator who supplied the product and to whom it was supplied (for ten years from the supply date).
Distributors generally have the following responsibilities
In making products available on the market to act with due care including:.
- before making each product available on the market verify the product bears appropriate marking and labelled from both the manufacturer and importer,
- is accompanied by the required documents (Instructions and safety information in English), and
- store the products under conditions which do not jeopardise conformity.
Where a distributor considers or has reason to believe that a product is not in conformity with the essential objectives applicable to the product by any relevant product legislation, the distributor must immediately take the corrective measures necessary to bring the product into conformity, withdraw the product from the market, and / or recall the product. Where a product presents a risk, the distributor must inform the manufacturer or the importer of the risk. It must also inform the market surveillance authority of the risk presented by the product, giving details in what way product is considered not to be in conformity, and any corrective measures taken.
Following a request from an enforcing authority distributors must provide the authority with all the information and documentation necessary to demonstrate that the product is in conformity, and cooperate with the relevant authorities to evaluate and eliminate risk posed by the product.
Distributors must also ensure traceability of products throughout the distribution chain, in particular by identifying to the authorities any other economic operator who supplied the product and to whom it was supplied (for ten years from the supply date).
Where distributors re-brand products applying their own name, or modify a product made by another in a way not foreseen by the manufacturer, before making it available they must take on and fulfil all of the manufacturer's obligations of the relevant product law.
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).
In all cases where it becomes known that something about a product poses a serious risk to health or safety, all suppliers of work equipment 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.