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Summary of The Health & Safety At Work Act: Maintenance

October 9th, 2018

Last updated: October 5th, 2022

Under section 2 of the Health And Safety At Work Act, employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees, maintenance plays a huge part in this, as it helps to ensure that the equipment in your business is up-to-scratch, and doesn’t pose a hazard. For instance, a poorly maintained AC unit could pose a hazard through growth in the ducting or even leaking chemicals. That’s why services like duct cleaning and air conditioner maintenance are crucial.

What is The Health and Safety at Work Act?

This is legislation that applies to all UK businesses, designed to keep everyone safe when they go to work or visit another business.

In the government’s own summary of the act, it “places a legal duty on employers to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of employees, and to ensure that employees and others are kept safe.”

Summary of The Health & Safety At Work Act: Maintenance

So, what does health and safety at work act cover when it comes to maintenance? Under section 2 of the Health And Safety At Work Act 1974, employers have a general duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. These duties were expanded upon by the Workplace (health, safety and welfare) Regulations 1992, and in terms of planned maintenance activities there are further regulations specific to what an employer must do to safeguard its employees.

Where Does Legislation Apply in Terms of Maintenance?

In general terms, planned maintenance contributes towards an employer’s obligations in ensuring that certain equipment, devices and systems are maintained in safe and efficient working order. To satisfy this general legislation maintenance is required on:

  • Mechanical ventilation systems
  • Equipment and devices which would cause a risk to health, safety or welfare if a fault occurred, such as those containing certain refrigerants
  • Equipment and devices intended to prevent or reduce hazards, such as fire suppression equipment

Maintenance requirements for an employer also extend to the fabric and infrastructure of a building and premises. So the condition of premises needs to be monitored to ensure it has sufficient stability and solidity for use and maintenance systems must cover risks that impact upon the normal running of the work processes, such as vibration, exposure to materials and floor loadings, and also foreseeable risks, such as fire and security systems.

A planned maintenance programme is designed to keep systems running in a cost-effective manner and to guard against unscheduled breakdowns. This helps a business plan and budget and also ensures maximum efficiency and an optimal lifespan for the equipment in question. However, health and safety is integral to all of this and specific legislation exists which ensures that planned maintenance, in carrying out all the above, also address fundamental health and safety requirements.

Maintenance of Work Equipment

The PUWER (Provision and use of work equipment regulations) regulations 1992 require that an employer must maintain all work equipment in an efficient state, in efficient order and in good repair. This includes keeping records of maintenance carried out and ensuring the safety of maintenance personnel who are undertaking such tasks. For instance, if your business is using any lifting equipment, it is a requirement to get this regularly checked and maintained.

Risk assessments help to determine the nature and frequency of planned maintenance, but an effective planned maintenance system should satisfy both the PUWER regs and other health and safety legislation, plus the business objectives in terms of productivity and even environmental impact.

Risk assessments are also a crucial document for providing proof that you have considered all aspects of your responsibilities and that you have an adequate system in place to prevent your employees being in any danger while they are in your workplace. It’s not just about employees, either, as customers and visitors to your business may fall under your responsibilities.

When designing a maintenance programme to satisfy the PUWER regs, you should consider factors such as:

  • Manufacturers recommendations
  • How frequently and intensely equipment is used
  • The operating environment
  • User knowledge and experience
  • Health and Safety implications where breakdown or malfunction could occur

What If a Business Doesn’t Comply With The Health and Safety Act?

Remember that it is a legal duty to take action to maintain your premises and ensure your compliance. If you don’t, there are a number of risks, including:

  • Fines. You could be issued with a fine for not adhering to regulations.
  • Legal action. Separately, you could face a lawsuit and be liable for compensation to employees and customers.
  • Damaged reputation, or even disqualification from operating in certain industries.
  • Moral issues. Ultimately, it is the right thing to do to ensure that everyone is safe.

The Best Way to Satisfy Maintenance Legislation

In carrying out maintenance tasks, an employer should also ensure that maintenance personnel are qualified, fully briefed on workplace procedures, layout and arrangements and are provided with permits, PPE, isolation procedures and all the correct equipment.

Many businesses contract out maintenance programmes to third party organisations, who can be specialist contractors, but must be qualified and fully informed as above. At Robinsons Facilities Services, we are a leading contractor specialising in maintenance and repairs in Yorkshire.

In terms of ensuring an employer is complying with the Health & Safety At Work Act and all related legislation, employing a qualified third party is the best way to ensure all procedures are followed, control measures are adhered to and maintenance practices comply with the law and satisfy all the requirements of the business. It is about peace of mind as much as anything. It isn’t a good idea to rely on your own memory to maintain all aspects of commercial premises, as it can be easy to forget something or to miss something crucial.

For more information, please contact us.


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