The rules relating to work equipment are governed by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. This legislation supplements the common law obligation that employers are required to provide their employees with safe plant and machinery.
The aim of the legislation was to focus the minds of employers, to ensure that they thought about the safety of their machinery and ultimately the safety of their employees.
What is ‘work equipment’?
The Regulations define 'Work Equipment' as "any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not).”
So this means that anything you are using to do your job (for example a hammer, a power saw, a trolley and even a bicycle being used in the course of a postman's employment) are all covered by the Regulations.
In fact, Thompsons Solicitors’ landmark case of Skinner -v- Scottish Ambulance Service confirmed that the range of objects covered by this definition is very extensive. In that case the court held that a needle being used by an ambulance man for an intravenous drip was work equipment.
What does ‘use’ mean?
The Regulations also explain exactly when a piece of equipment can be regarded as being ‘used’ under the rules.
Effectively the Regulations cover "any activity involving the work equipment which includes starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, and cleaning".
The Regulations apply to employers who provide equipment to their employees at their work. Therefore if an employer gives someone a tool or piece of machinery with the intention of them using this in the course of their employment then, if there is a fault with the machine/tool, the employer will be liable under the legislation.
The legislation also applies to anyone who has control over any equipment and a person at work who is using or supervising the use of the equipment or has control of the way in which the equipment is used.
If you have been involved in a workplace accident and would like free legal advice contact our accident compensation claims solicitors on 0800 0891331. We will handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis.