Buying Machinery

Safety guidance on the buying of machinery.  Definitions, the law and duties


This guidance explains the main requirements of the health and safety laws which we need to know about when we are buying new machinery. Although what follows looks complicated, it does not change what we have always had to do - make sure that any new machinery we buy for use at work is safe.

 The purpose of this guidance is to make sure that work equipment is safe when we purchase it, and that it is then used correctly and safely, so that the risk of accidents or ill health occurring as a result of using the equipment is reduced.


What is a machine?

A machine is normally regarded as being a piece of equipment which has moving parts and, usually, some kind of drive unit.

The Law

There are two groups of law:


  1. The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 (The Supply Law) deals with what manufacturers and suppliers of new machinery have to do which is to ensure that machinery is safe when supplied and to have CE marking.


  1. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 (The User Law) which require employers to:

o provide the right kind of safe equipment for use at work;
o ensure that it can be used correctly; and
o keep it maintained in a safe condition.

This law also requires Star, as a user, to check that the equipment complies with all the supply law that is relevant.

We already know that most new machinery should have CE marking when we buy it. However, CE marking is only a claim by the manufacturer that the machinery is safe and that they have met relevant supply law. We also have to check that it is, in fact, safe.


Managers duties:

Comply with the requirements of AP 025

Before purchasing machinery tell the supplier where the machine will be used, what you want to use it for and who will be using it, particularly if it is a complex or custom-built machine.

Ask the supplier the following:

• What health and safety risks might there be when using the machine?
• Are there any dangerous parts and what guards will be provided?
• Will it need emergency stop controls and how will it be isolated?
• How do the controls and control systems work?
• Will dust or fumes, etc be produced by the machine? If these are likely to be in significant quantities, can an existing extraction system be adapted to cope with the new machine or will you have to buy a new system?
• Has the machinery been designed to minimise the noise and vibration levels produced?
• Are there any extremely hot or very cold parts of the machine, and can they be insulated or protected?
• Are there any lasers or thickness gauges, and can any exposure to radiation be eliminated? If not, what precautions are there to stop any exposure to radiation?
• What has been done to eliminate the risk of electric shock particularly during maintenance work, when covers or control panel doors may be open?
• Are there possible risks from other sources of energy such as hydraulic or pneumatic?
• Is there clear information about installation, maintenance and breakdown procedures?
• Will you inform me if problems arise with similar machines bought by other users?

The above is not an exhaustive list, however, for off-the-shelf equipment many of the questions will not be necessary. The above is not an exhaustive list, however, for off-the-shelf equipment many of the questions will not be necessary.

When you have bought new machinery

• Check that it has CE marking (where necessary) and ask for a copy of the EC Declaration of Conformity if you have not been given one.
• Check that the supplier has explained what the machinery is designed to be used for and what it cannot be used for (unless this is off-the-shelf machinery).
• Make sure a manual has been supplied which includes instructions for safe use, assembly, installation, commissioning, safe handling, adjustment and maintenance.
• Make sure the instruction manual is written in English. (The maintenance instructions may however be written in another language if specialised staff from the manufacturer or supplier will carry out maintenance.)
• Make sure information has been provided about any remaining risks from the machine, and the precautions you need to take to deal with them. These may include electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, stored energy, thermal, radiation or health hazards.
• Check that data about noise and vibration levels have been provided and, where necessary, explained to you.
• Ensure that any warning signs are visible and easy to understand.
• For a complex or custom-built machine arrange for a trial run so you can be shown the safety features and how they work.
• Check to see if you think the machine is safe.
• Make sure any early concerns about the safety of the machine are reported to the supplier.

Make sure any early concerns about the safety of the machine are reported to the supplier.

Last modified: Thursday, 4 July 2013, 9:49 AM