What is PUWER, and what does PUWER stand for?

Almost everyone uses some form of work equipment, which is why it is essential that this equipment is suitable and safe to use. To ensure that this is the case, a set of regulations known as PUWER were introduced that place several duties on employers, employees, and equipment suppliers.

In this article, we will explore what PUWER is and what it covers and outline some of its requirements.

If you are looking for PUWER training or more information on the regulations, consider taking our great value IIRSM-approved PUWER training course.

What does PUWER stand for?

PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. These are a set of regulations that place duties on businesses and employees who own, operate, or have control over work equipment. 

What is PUWER?

PUWER is a set of regulations that were introduced in 1998. They place several responsibilities on suppliers and users of work equipment to ensure that it is provided and used safely.

Suppliers and employers

Suppliers and employers must ensure that the work equipment they provide meets the requirements of PUWER. Among other things, this means that it must be:

  • Suitable for its intended use.
  • Maintained in a safe condition so that it does not put people’s health and safety at risk.
  • Inspected and tested where required to ensure that it is safe for use. Any inspection should be carried out by a competent person (this could be an employee if they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to perform the task) and recorded.
  • Used only by those with appropriate training, practice, and guidance.
  • Supplied with any necessary safety or control measures.

For more information on the requirements that PUWER places on suppliers and employers, click here to view the HSE's approved code of practice and guidance for the regulations.


The responsibilities for users of work equipment are covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW), which requires employees to:

  • Take reasonable care for themselves and others who may be affected by their work.
  • Co-operate with their employer.
  • Avoid misusing or interfering with safety provisions.
  • Use equipment properly and in accordance with instructions and training.
  • Inform employers of any dangerous situations and issues with safety measures that they identify.

Where employees provide their own tools, an employer still has a responsibility to ensure that it is suitable.

For more information, click here to view a more detailed description of employer and employee responsibilities under the PUWER regulations.

Why is PUWER important in the workplace?

PUWER is important because it plays an important role in reducing the risk to people's health and safety that the use of equipment and machinery poses by preventing or controlling the hazards associated with it.

What does PUWER cover?

The PUWER regulations cover almost all equipment used by an employee at work, including that which is owned by the employee. This includes hand tools, power tools, ladders, photocopiers, laboratory apparatus, lifting equipment, fork-lift trucks, and motor vehicles that are not privately owned. 

This equipment is also covered in a wide range of situations, including while it is being started, stopped, repaired, modified, maintained, serviced, cleaned, and transported.

We have answered several frequently asked questions about specific items of work equipment, and whether they are covered by PUWER, below:

Are ladders covered by PUWER?

Yes, ladders are covered by PUWER.

Are abrasive wheels covered by PUWER?

Yes, but abrasive wheels also have their own guidelines which you can view more information about by clicking here.

Does PUWER cover hand tools?

Yes, PUWER covers hand tools, including those owned by the employee themselves.

Do excavators require a PUWER certificate?

Yes, but they also have specific guidelines. If the only job they do is conventional ‘earth moving’ then the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) apply, which requires them to be regularly maintained and inspected by a competent person.

However, if the machine is used for lifting then the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) apply, which require that it is thoroughly examined and fitted with additional safety devices, including a boom lowering device and an acoustic warning device.

How does PUWER apply in agriculture?

PUWER applies to the agriculture industry in the same as it does to any other industry.

Are PAT tests a legal requirement under PUWER?

No, PAT tests are useful to show that portable appliances are electrically safe but they are not a legal requirement under PUWER.

Are doors covered by PUWER?

No, doors are not classed as work equipment but they will be covered by fire safety and emergency planning regulations.

Is work equipment covered by other legislation?

Sometimes, other more specific legislation may also apply to certain items of work equipment, such as vehicles and cranes. Generally speaking, if you are meeting the requirements of this more specific legislation, you will also be meeting the more general requirements of PUWER.

Some of this other legislation includes:

What is PUWER training?

PUWER training is important to help employees understand the roles and responsibilities placed on them by PUWER.

At Commodious, we provide an online PUWER training course that:

  • Outlines the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • Describes what employers need to do to protect users of work equipment.
  • Details some simple precautions that can be taken with work equipment to significantly reduce the risk of injury or illness to the user or others.
  • Considers the risks associated with using work equipment, and what precautions need to be taken to minimise the risks.

To find out more about this training, use the link below: