What’s the difference between engineering inspection and maintenance?

Engineering inspection and maintenance are both essential for many businesses, but people often confuse the two. This article from Allianz outlines the differences between inspection and maintenance and explains why and when each should be carried out.

We all expect the plant and machinery we encounter daily to work efficiently and seamlessly, but also safely. This means that users and owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their plant and machinery, and their facilities are regularly inspected and well maintained.


The role of engineering inspection is to identify any faults or defects in plant and machinery that have or will in the course of time, present an unacceptable risk. Many inspections are mandatory to comply with applicable health and safety legislation. Depending on the regulations, these inspections can be required as frequently as every six or 12  months, depending on things such as the type of equipment and its usage. Failing to ensure inspections are undertaken at the required intervals can lead to prosecution by the relevant enforcing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


Maintenance involves bringing an item of plant or machinery back up to full working order before any faults or defects can impair its operation or make it unsafe. Regular planned maintenance can help to ensure that plant and machinery remain operational, but it may not always cover all safety-related aspects or adequately identify more rapidly developing defects.

Maintenance includes tasks such as repairing, replacing, servicing, and testing. Inadequate maintenance can lead to health and safety breaches, accidents, injury or even death. Failing to ensure plant and machinery are suitably maintained can also lead to prosecution by the HSE.

Why both are needed

Both activities are needed to ensure that plant and machinery remain safe and fit for use. Quite rightly, inspection and maintenance are heavily regulated, and company owners have both a moral and legal duty to ensure their equipment remains in safe working order. Whilst not essential, it’s worth considering the value of having engineering inspections undertaken by a recognised, independent provider to demonstrate impartiality in that activity.

Where an employer is found to be negligent by failing to ensure suitable inspection and maintenance are carried out, you could find yourself subject to substantial fines and potentially a custodial sentence. Sentencing guidelines for breaches of health and safety duties issued by the Sentencing Council in 2016, mean an employer could face a financial penalty of up to £10 million if their turnover is in excess of £50 million. Similarly, proportionate penalties apply to smaller organisations.

Businesses need to consider engineering inspection and maintenance as a key part of their health and safety and risk management strategies. Ensuring that such activities are performed at the required level contributes to a safer workplace, reduced risk exposure, and the ability for a business to maintain its operations.

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If you are concerned about how this affects you and your business and would like support in assessing your needs, we are here to help. Please do get in touch for confidential advice and guidance.

This article was adapted from an article by Allianz which can be found here.