PUWER maintenance and inspection – what you need to know

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) describe how companies and individuals who own, operate, or have control over work equipment, are responsible for making sure the equipment is safe to use.

While the regulations apply to the U.K., they are globally recognized as a comprehensive framework and are used as a standard by many countries worldwide.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) exist to make sure that all work equipment is safe to use. PUWER often overlaps with LOLER (The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998), but while LOLER only applies to lifting equipment, PUWER regulates all working equipment. Anyone working in the U.K. or on vessels in U.K. waters must comply with PUWER. 

Let’s start off with a few key definitions:

Key terms and definitions

Competent person

A person with the necessary knowledge and experience to examine the equipment, detect defects or weaknesses, and determine if it’s safe to continue using. The person should be objective and impartial, meaning they’re usually an external contractor.


For these regulations, “employer” also means a self-employed person or a person who supervises or manages the use of work equipment.


A visual or more rigorous inspection and, where appropriate, testing by a competent person.

Power press

A press or press brake for metalwork using tools or for die-proving, which is power-driven and embodies a flywheel and clutch.

Thorough examination

A detailed examination by a competent person.


Any activity involving work equipment, including starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, and cleaning.

Work Equipment

Any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool, or installation for use at work.

While most employers and workers know how to use their equipment safely, the requirements of maintenance, thorough examinations, and inspections might be harder to have a clear overview of.

PUWER also states how the maintenance, examinations, and inspections should be documented and how long the documentation should be available.

Let’s walk you through it!


PUWER states that every employer must ensure that the work equipment is maintained properly. The equipment’s user manual will usually describe what maintenance is required, as the Machinery Directive states that the manufacturer must include this. 

Where the use of work equipment is likely to involve a particular risk to health or safety, the employer must ensure that the repairs and maintenance of that work equipment are restricted to specifically designated people.

The employer must also make sure that maintenance operations that involve a risk to health or safety can be carried out while the work equipment is shut down or with other measures to protect against risk.

Where any machinery has a maintenance log, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the log is kept up to date.


The regulations have specific requirements for when work equipment must be inspected to make sure it is still safe to operate.

  • If the safety of the equipment depends on the installation conditions, it must be inspected after installation before being used for the first time and after any new assembly at a different location.
  • If the equipment is exposed to conditions that cause deterioration, it must be inspected at suitable intervals, and every time exceptional circumstances that can jeopardize the safety of the equipment have occurred.
The result of these inspections must be recorded, and the record must be kept until the next inspection occurs.

Power presses have their own requirements for thorough examinations and inspections:

  • The power press and its guards and protection devices must be thoroughly examined before being used for the first time.
  • In addition, they must be thoroughly examined at least every 12 months if it only has fixed guards, or else every 6 months.
  • They must also be thoroughly examined if any exceptional circumstances that can jeopardize the safety of the equipment have occurred.
  • The employer must immediately be notified of any defects that could become a danger.
  • After a power press has had its tools set, re-set, or adjusted, every guard and protection device must be inspected and tested while in position on the power press by a competent person.
  • ·  A competent person must inspect and test every guard and protection device within the first four hours of every working period. A working period is defined as the period when the day’s or night’s work is done – or where a shift system is in operation, a shift.

A report of the thorough examination must be made as soon as possible and be authenticated by the employer. If a potentially dangerous defect is discovered, a copy of the report should also be sent to the enforcing authority. The report must be kept available for inspection for 2 years after it’s made and must contain:

  • The name of the employer the examination was performed for.
  • The address of the premises where the thorough examination was made.
  • For each examined item, it should say whether it is a power press or a kind of guard or protection device, its make, type, and year of manufacture, and the identifying mark of the manufacturer and the employer.
  • Whether it’s the first thorough examination of a power press after installation or assembly at a new location or if it’s another thorough examination.
  • If it is the first thorough examination of a power press, the report should say if it has been installed correctly.
  • No matter what type of thorough examination, the report should state whether the press would be safe to operate or not – or if it’s of a guard or protective device, whether it’s effective for its purpose – and if not, why. The report should also identify any part found to have a defect and a description of the defect.
  • Any repair, renewal, or alteration required to remedy a defect found to be a danger.
  • If a defect is found that is not yet dangerous but could be, the report should state when it could become a danger and what repair, renewal, or alteration is required to remedy it. It should also state the date when the defect was notified to the employer.
  • Any repair, renewal, or alteration which has already been effected.
  • The qualification and address of the person making the report, whether they are self-employed or employed, and the name and address of their employer.
  • The date of the thorough examination.
  • The date of the report.
  • The name of the person making the report and the person signing or otherwise authenticating it.

A certificate must be signed for every inspection. It must be kept available for inspection at or near the power press until it’s superseded by a later certificate. After that, it must be kept until 6 months after the last time it was signed. The certificate must contain:

  • Details to identify every guard and protection device inspected and tested and the power press it was installed on.
  • The date and time of the inspection and test.
  • Whether the guard or protection device is in position and effective for its purpose.

As you can see, there are quite a lot of maintenance and inspection requirements and documentation to keep track of to comply with PUWER.

I hope this guide made it a bit clearer – and if you would like more information on how to stay compliant easily and efficiently, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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