What requirements do I have when hiring out work equipment?
Those hiring out equipment for use at work are considered as suppliers under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and so have broad responsibilities for the safety of the products they hire out. This includes (so far as reasonably practicable) pre-hire testing and inspection ensure continued safety, and the provision of information.
Although they need to look for obvious safety defects, those hiring out equipment do not have to go into the detailed design of that equipment or enhance its safety beyond the requirements of the relevant product supply directive – provided the product is CE marked, accompanied by user instructions.
Those hiring out work equipment also have responsibilities under PUWER and LOLER (if lifting equipment), in so far as they exercise control over that equipment (for example, ensuring the thorough examination of lifting equipment and other routine inspections have taken place at the required intervals). It may be appropriate for the user to organise the periodic thorough examinations. However, unless part of the hire agreement, those hiring out work equipment can’t normally be responsible for the day-to-day and other pre-use safety checks which should be undertaken by the user.
All people using equipment at work must be adequately trained to ensure health and safety in its use, supervision or management. Some work activities require detailed formal training but, for most everyday activities involving work equipment, adequate training can be delivered in-house using the manufacturer’s instructions and the background knowledge / skills of more experienced workers and managers.
People should be competent for the work they undertake. Training – along with knowledge, experience and skill – helps develop such competence. However, competence may (in some cases) include medical fitness and physical / mental aptitude for the activity.