Reporting faulty equipment in the workplace

Faulty workplace equipment such as broken tools and unmaintained vehicles could result in you being liable for a breach of health and safety compliance.

Reporting faulty equipment in the workplace

As an employer, you can diligently create risk assessments and put in place the correct health and safety policies and procedures, however, defective workplace equipment such as broken tools and unmaintained vehicles could result in you being liable for a breach of health and safety compliance.

Workplace equipment can cause injury even when they are free from defects. This is especially true in the agricultural, construction, and manufacturing industries, where even non-faulty machinery can cause serious harm.

What is the law around maintaining safe workplace equipment?

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 say that all employers have a duty of care to ensure all equipment, machinery, and vehicles used in the workplace are suitable for their intended use, receive regular safety checks, and are well maintained.

Employers must also ensure that employees operating equipment, machinery, and vehicles have had adequate training on correct and safe usage. Finally, following a risk assessment, certain equipment, machinery, and vehicles must have suitable safety measures applied, for example, guards, safety notices, and warning signs.

Not only can such an event cause you, your employees and their family’s enormous emotional distress, you can be investigated and prosecuted by the HSE or local authority if a health and safety incident occurs. A breach of the regulations can result in fines, an adverse costs order and in serious cases, a prison sentence. Your employee can also bring a compensation claim for the injury they receive due to the defective equipment.


Who should report faulty work equipment?

It’s ultimately up to you, as the employer, to ensure that equipment, machinery, and vehicles are regularly maintained. Regulation 6 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 provides that all machinery maintenance logs must be kept updated.

If following a risk assessment, certain machinery is identified as posing a specific risk, any repairs, modifications, maintenance, or servicing of that machinery must be restricted to people who have been specifically designated and trained to maintain and repair it.

The HSE states that employers have a duty to report any concerns about a product due to its “design, construction, or the manner of supply” to the appropriate market surveillance authority (MSA).

The HSE is the relevant body to notify except in cases concerning medical devices, construction products permanently incorporated into a building, and the radio or electromagnetic capability aspects of equipment.

The other main UK MSAs are:

  • HSE Northern Ireland (HSENI)
  • Office of Rail and Road (ORR)
  • Trading Standards (Local Authorities in Northern Ireland)
  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA)
  • Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

When reporting faulty workplace equipment the HSE requests that employers provide background information, such as why you consider that the product is defective, photographs of the item, and full contact details of the manufacturer.


How our outsourced Safety service can help your business

Defective workplace equipment, machinery, and vehicles can cause life-changing injuries or even death. To reduce your risk of breaching health and safety law, including the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, our outsourced health and safety service can support you in a number of ways including:

  • Unlimited advice and support from health and safety consultants who can help you complete the appropriate risk assessments and put the correct safety processes in place
  • Access to a Competent Person
  • Annual Health and Safety audit to ensure ongoing compliance
  • Specialist health and safety risk assessment templates and guidance available in Primed, our online system, including sector-specific risk assessments covering construction, engineering, agriculture, veterinary, and transport.
  • Should an accident or investigation occur, we can also support you on RIDDOR, HSE and local authority investigations.

Find out more with a free consultation >>