STIHL change the rules and dealer contracts – Updated (May 2019)


An update on your legal responsibilities

In our last BAGMA Briefing newsletter, we ran a short item concerning the above headline and have inadvertently provided some misleading information concerning a dealer’s legal responsibilities, and how STIHL’s new policy may impact the installation and handover of products sold and delivered in boxes.

Our intention is only to ensure users health and safety and we apologise to our readers and STIHL for any difficulties or embarrassment we may have caused with our misleading article.  We’ve explained the situation with an update below and have a corrected response from the Health and Safety Executive in relation to section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

As our question related to supply to users who will not be at work it should actually be referred to the Office for Product Safety and Standards, part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. If in any doubt dealers should look through the web information via the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-for-product-safety-and-standards

From an HSE perspective Section 6 only applies to articles for use at work and so would not apply in the circumstances we described and the private user would also not have the same duties to get themselves trained under PUWER and HSWA as they would if they were at work.

However the requirements of The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1998 and the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) would apply to the placing of any machinery onto the market regardless of who will be using it, e.g. requirement to ensure machinery is safe and fit for purpose, CE marking, and provision of information and warnings necessary in order to operate the machine safely, including instruction. In the case of non-professional users the EHSRs (copied as 1.7.4.1(d) in Schedule 2 to SMSR) requires that the wording of instructions for non-professional users must take into account the level of general education and acumen that can reasonably be expected from such operators. This is really dealing with written instructions provided with the machine. HSE are the enforcing authority for SMSR for machinery for use at work. The Local Authorities are the enforcing authority for machinery not for use at work.

HSE and OPSS do work together to support consumer awareness campaigns about specific hazards, for example there has recently been advice to non-professional users of chainsaws by OPSS referring them to information available from HSE and  trade associations such as the Arboriculture Association. See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/make-safety-your-priority-when-working-with-chainsaws.

Responsible dealers supplying to non-professional users could do something similar (proportionate to the risks from the machine) in addition to their legal duties to supply written instructions and warnings on safe use under SMSR.

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