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Work equipment in the healthcare setting

Every year there are accidents from using work equipment, including machinery. Many are serious and some are fatal.

Using well-maintained equipment, operated by trained staff, can help prevent accidents.

Work equipment is any machinery, appliance or tool used at work and includes:

  • beds
  • trolleys
  • cookers
  • water boilers
  • patient handling aids
  • medical devices (for example, patient hoist, scalpel or syringe)

Some medical devices are exempt from health and safety legislation. For example, it does not apply to patient medical care devices, dressings and endoscopes.

Get more information on medical devices in the Medical Devices and Equipment Management Policy.

Distributors, agents and retailers must supply safe and compliant products.

Products should have:

  • CE mark (showing the product is fit for purpose)
  • a declaration of conformity
  • user instructions written in English

Medical devices sold or used in Ireland must be licensed by an EU-competent authority. For example, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which provides its CE mark.

Electrical hazards

Electrical hazards associated with electrical equipment may include:

  • electric shock
  • burns sustained from accidental electrical contact
  • fires caused by overheating or ignition of explosive atmospheres

Faulty electrical equipment must never be used and must be labelled as faulty.

Equipment maintenance and statutory inspections

Statutory inspections are checks, inspections or tests specified in a statutory instrument (act or regulation that is legally required).

Some work equipment falls under this remit. There are specific requirements based on the type and use of equipment.

Examples include (non-exhaustive list):

  • ceiling track hoists
  • patients hoists
  • lifting equipment
  • elevators
  • fork lift trucks
  • tail lifts
  • boilers
  • compressors

Statutory inspections must be completed at specified intervals by a competent engineer or equivalent person. It is important to know which types of work equipment within your service fall under the statutory inspection category. To assist managers, the NHSF has developed a Register of Equipment - Statutory and Maintenance Record workbook.

This workbook enables you to easily:

  • identify what type of equipment falls under each inspection category
  • identify the frequency of statutory inspections and maintenance checks for all workplace equipment
  • set review dates for future inspections
  • provide a scheduling records for these checks and inspections
  • provide a mechanism for recording this work

You should contact your local estates department to support this work. Some of the equipment may fall under their statutory inspection schedule.

Manager responsibilities

Managers are responsible for:

  • completing a risk assessment of work equipment
  • life cycle of the equipment (from adoption to disposal of equipment)
  • ensuring maintenance and servicing of equipment is carried out by a competent service
  • keeping records of maintenance checks, testing and servicing
  • ensuring electrical installations are maintained by a competent person and checked regularly
  • removing faulty equipment immediately and labelling as faulty
  • ensuring socket outlets are not overloaded with adapters
  • developing a maintenance programme to ensure equipment is kept in good repair

Employee responsibilities

Employees are responsible for:

  • using equipment in accordance with manufacturers' instructions
  • checking equipment before use and only to use equipment that is safe
  • reporting any defects with equipment to the manager
  • undertaking training on the use of the equipment
  • reporting incidents, accidents and near- misses to your manager immediately

Related documents

Generic risk assessment form

Generic risk assessment fillable form template

Portable electrical equipment prompt sheet

Electrical risk safety alert

Safety alert folding screens

Contact HSE Health and Safety helpdesk

Use the Health and Safety self-service portal or

Phone: 1800 420 420

Monday to Friday 10.30am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 3.30pm