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PUWER breaches on the rise

12 Aug 21 The Building Safety Group (BSG) has reported a 40% increase in PUWER equipment breaches occurring on construction sites during the first half of 2021.

BSG found 60 PUWER breaches in April alone
BSG found 60 PUWER breaches in April alone

BSG’s figures were obtained from 8,500 independent site inspections between 1st January and 30th June 2021.

PUWER breaches were 40% higher in the second quarter than in the first quarter.

PUWER – the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) – places duties on owners and users of work equipment. BSG says that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is increasing its focus on enforcing PUWER regulations, following concerns that the condition of some machines may have degraded because of long periods of inactivity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The consequences of not adhering to PUWER regulations were made clear in 2017 when Warwickshire plant hire company AGD Equipment was fined £800,000 following the death of an employee. Warwick Crown Court heard how Mark Seward was testing a hydraulic cylinder when the cylinder cracked under pressure, exploded, and sent metal fragments flying. One of them hit him in the head.

BSG technical support manager Andy Harper said: “Businesses need to look at PUWER regulations closely and make note of what is considered ‘work equipment’, which is a catch-all term that covers any tool, appliance, or piece of machinery that could potentially pose a risk to employees.”

He added: “PUWER regulations require a competent person to periodically inspect each piece of work equipment to ensure it is fit for use, and to officially record their findings for future reference. With more complex pieces of machinery, instructions on how to use the equipment, alongside any potential safety issues, should be made available to all equipment users.”

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