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A Guide to the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996

  • Operations notice: 63
  • Issue date: Dec 2003

Introduction

1. This notice provides guidance on the requirements of the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996 (EPS) and how they apply to the supply (placing on the market/putting into service) of relevant products. This is the ‘guide to EPS’ referred to in Operations Notice 59.

Background

2. EPS implements the European Union (EU) Explosive Atmospheres Directive 94/9/EC (ATEX) within the UK. The primary objective of the Directive is to ensure free movement of relevant products for use in potentially explosive atmospheres within the EU.

3. The Regulations came into force on 1 March 1996 with a transitional period for compliance extending to 30 June 2003. The transitional period, during which manufacturers could comply with EPS or the existing legislation in force on 23 March 1994, was provided to allow manufacturers sufficient time to bring their product lines into compliance with EPS. EPS was amended by the EPS (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/3766) to deal with typographical changes, to include requirements relating to the activity of ‘putting into service’ in specific situations and to amend the definition of ‘responsible person’.

4. Schedule 3 of EPS details the essential health and safety requirements (EHSR) for relevant products, both electrical and mechanical, intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres arising from flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts. From 1 July 2003 relevant products which are placed on the market (1) or put into service (2) within the EU (3) are required to comply (among other things) with the EHSRs, be safe and bear the CE mark.

  1. Placing on the market in the EU means the first making available of products in the EU market for the purpose of distribution and/or use. Making available means the completion of manufacturing when a product is available for distribution or sale.
  2. Putting into service in the EU means the first use of products in the EU by an end user. This includes putting into store of products held as spares by the end user or maintenance contractor.
  3. The countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) (EU countries plus Norway, Iceland etc) agreed to be bound by EU Supply Directives. Where the expression ‘EU member state’ is used in this notice, the reader should take this to refer to all countries in the EEA.

5. EPS regulates the supply, but not the subsequent safe use, of products intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. However, EPS does require the supplier (responsible person) to provide instructions for the safe operation of the equipment. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act), the Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 (PFEER), the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR) are all relevant to the safe use of such products.

Annexes

6. The annexes to this notice give more detailed information about particular aspects of EPS:

Application offshore

7. Since EPS Schedule 5 excludes seagoing vessels and mobile offshore units together with equipment on board such vessels or units, EPS does not apply to MODUs, floating production platforms (FPPs) and floating production storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs). (Note: The Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995 defines FPPs and FPSOs as being fixed installations but only for the purposes of the offshore sector specific regulations, i.e. the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1993 (SCR), the Offshore Installations (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (DCR) and PFEER.) Therefore, EPS is applicable only to the supply of relevant products for use on fixed offshore installations.

Duties

8. The duty to comply with the requirements of EPS is placed upon a ‘responsible person’ who supplies the product for the first time in the EU. This responsible person is usually the product manufacturer. A responsible person does not necessarily have to be based within the EU, which permits, for example, a USA manufacturer to undertake the conformity assessment process, involving an EU notified body in the process as appropriate, and then market the product within the EU. Alternatively, for a manufacturer outside the EU, the manufacturer can appoint an authorised representative within the EU to undertake the conformity assessment process on their behalf.

9. In instances where two or more items of equipment are assembled together to form a product in its own right (e.g. generation skid, compressor skid) then the ‘responsible person’ is considered to be the person who assembles the items together (refer to Annex 2, paragraph 3).

10. Where a product has been directly imported into the EU by an end user, it is the end user (e.g. the operator of the offshore installation) that has the duty to ensure it complies with EPS and to hold the declaration of conformity and related documentation. An end user is responsible for ensuring that any relevant product which is manufactured ‘in-house’ for use at work complies with EPS, as they have become, de facto, the ‘manufacturer’.

11. Dutyholders will need technical staff who are competent in the selection, installation and maintenance of ‘EPS’ products. Good industry practice is for electrical and instrument technicians to have successfully completed ‘Compex’ training and assessment, or equivalent. An equivalent level of competency is necessary for mechanical technicians, although at present no recognised training and assessment scheme exists.

12. Dutyholders need to consider a relevant product’s compliance with EPS, but only if it has been supplied after 1 July 2003, or is a product where the manufacturer has opted to comply with EPS during the transitional period, i.e. after March 1996.

13. Where it is established that a ‘responsible person’ is in breach of EPS, HSE will consider enforcement action.

References

Further information

Any queries relating to this notice should be addressed to:

Health and Safety Executive
Hazardous Installations Directorate
Offshore Division
Lord Cullen House
Fraser Place
Aberdeen
AB25 3UB

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice

 

Annex 1: Impact of the EPS Regulations

Impact on Ex electrical products and hazardous area mechanical products

1. For Ex electrical products and all relevant hazardous area mechanical products already in use or already purchased (e.g. replacement items and spares held in stock) before 1 July 2003 there is no change. All such equipment can continue to be installed, operated and maintained.

2. From 1 July 2003, all Ex electrical products and all relevant hazardous area mechanical products (see EPS regulation 3(2)) purchased (or manufactured by the ‘responsible person’) for use at work should be products that comply with the requirements of EPS and bear an Ex symbol in a hexagon and the CE mark. From 1 July 2003, all such products on the market in the EU should comply with the EPS Regulations or the equivalent EU member state national legislation.

Protective systems

3. EPS also applies to protective systems, which are designed to stop an incipient explosion developing or to limit the range of explosion flames and pressures. Such systems would include flame arrestors, explosion suppression systems, explosion diverters, rapid acting isolation valves and over pressure relief systems. The EHSRs (EPS, Schedule 3) contain information relevant to the design and construction of such systems.

Over pressure relief systems

4. EPS applies to overpressure relief products, which are separately placed on the EU market for use as autonomous systems (see EPS regulation 3(2)(d)). EPS therefore does not apply to an overpressure relief arrangement, such as a blowout panel, which forms an integral part of process/plant module, e.g. a section of a module wall which has been designed to fail at a lower overpressure than the wall itself. However the provisions of HSW Act, PFEER and PUWER remain applicable to such equipment.

Dusts

5. Combustible dusts are currently not used by the offshore industry and therefore it has not been necessary to provide plant and equipment designed for safe operation in dust laden atmospheres on offshore installations. However, there is always the possibility that in the future materials may be introduced offshore that will give rise to combustible dusts and therefore risk assessments should be undertaken in respect of new materials as required by HSW Act, MHSWR and PFEER.

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Annex 2: Products covered by EPS

What is included

1. EPS applies to equipment, protective systems, devices and components, which are collectively referred to as ‘products’ in this guidance. Definitions are included in the regulations but basically:

Products already on the market or in service

2. All relevant products which are in service in the EU before 1 July 2003 may continue to be operated and maintained. Products which are being held as ‘ready to use’ spares by the end user, the end user’s maintenance contractor, a distributor or by a manufacturer on 1 July 2003 can be put into service after 1 July 2003.

Assemblies

3. A typical ‘assembly’ might incorporate, in addition to the product(s) supplied by the assembler, a number of EPS conformity assessed products from other manufacturers, e.g. a compressor skid. In such instances the manufacturer of the assembly is responsible for complying with EPS. However, they may restrict their own conformity assessment of the assembly to any additional ignition risks, which have become relevant because of the final combination of their product(s) and the other manufacturers’ products.

4. A manufacturer may define a range of modular parts which may form an ‘assembly’. Either the user or installer can select and combine parts of the range to form an assembly. Provided that the assembly is in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and no new products and/or additional ignition risks are created, no further EPS conformity assessment is required by the user or installer, eg a range of flameproof/increased safety electrical switching/control gear.

Installations

5. Users or installers may combine several different EPS conformity assessed products from different manufacturers to form an ‘installation’ as desired without further conformity assessment provided that the manufacturers’ instructions for the products are complied with’, e.g. an electrically driven pump.

Manufactured products for own use

6. From 1 July 2003 relevant products, which are designed and built by an employer/operator or contractor for their own use, are required to comply with EPS.

Used products

7. Used or second-hand products that have been placed on the market and which were first brought into service within the EU prior to 1 July 2003 are unaffected by EPS since the Regulations only apply to products when they are first placed on the market or put into service in the EU. Such products can be circulated within the EU, e.g. sold on as a second-hand item to another user. However, if a product is substantially modified so as to become a new product then the modified product will be required to be conformity assessed under EPS before resale.

8. Used or second-hand products which are imported from outside the EU and made available within the EU for the first time on or after 1 July 2003 are required to comply with EPS.

Repaired products

9. Products in service prior to 1 July 2003 are unaffected by EPS and so may be repaired without regard to EPS.

10. Products put into service from 1 July 2003, which have had their functionality restored following a defect, without adding new features or modifications do not require such a repair to be further conformity assessed.

Spare parts and components

11. A spare part is any item intended to replace a defective or worn out part of a product. A typical repair operation would be replacement of a defective item by a spare part, e.g. a bearing or an elastomer seal change. Such repairs do not require further conformity assessment (see paragraph 10 above).

12. If a repair operation requires the replacement of a part which has been conformity assessed as an EPS ‘component’ then the replacement part must also be an appropriate EPS conformity assessed ‘component’.

Modified products

13. Relevant products, which were placed on the market or put into service within the EU prior to 1 July 2003, are not required to comply with EPS (unless a manufacturer has opted to comply with EPS during the transitional period), and therefore may be modified without need for conformity assessment under EPS. It depends, however, on how much they are modified: if they are rebuilt to the extent that they are, in effect, a new product they will be required to comply with EPS. The provisions of HSW Act, PFEER, PUWER and EAWR remain applicable to such equipment and a substantial modification, which is outside the relevant Ex certificate conditions, would require re-assessment of the product by the issuer of the Ex certificate.

14. Relevant products which have been placed on the market or put into service from 1 July 2003, and which are subsequently substantially modified, are required to comply with EPS. Such modified products would need to be conformity assessed again before being placed back on to the EU market or put into service in the EU. Substantial modification is considered to be that which affects one or more of the EHSRs, e.g. surface temperature.

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Annex 3: Marking of products

1. All products, except components, that comply with EPS are to be marked with the CE conformity mark, followed by the number of the relevant notified body where the notified body is involved with the production/QA procedures for the product. In addition the product must be marked with:

CE conformity mark

Ex mark

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Annex 4: Questions and answers

Question 1:

In the event that an operator sells an existing fixed offshore installation will they become the ‘seller’ under EPS and be liable for the compliance of all the products on the installation covered by EPS?

Answer 1:

An offshore installation is not an ‘equipment’, ‘protective system’, ‘device’ or ‘component’ as defined in EPS and so the Regulations do not apply to the offshore installation as an entity. In any event, EPS does not apply to used or second-hand products, which were on the market or put into service in the EU before 1 July 2003.


Question 2:

If a non-European certified product is currently in service in the EU can it remain in service after 30 June 2003 or does it have to be replaced?

Answer 2:

EPS allows any safe product in service in the EU on or before 30 June 2003 to remain in service indefinitely, whether it is European or non-European certified.


Question 3:

How will EPS affect imported explosion protected equipment from the USA currently accepted by the UK authorities for installation offshore, e.g. Factory Mutual or Underwriters Laboratory certified products?

Answer 3:

All ‘equipment’, ‘protective systems’, ‘devices’ and ‘components’ placed on the EU market or put into service after 30 June 2003 will be required to be conformity assessed in compliance with EPS. US manufacturers can themselves follow the appropriate conformity assessment procedure, involving a notified body as necessary, and attach the CE mark to their products. This would be the appropriate course of action for US products which are manufactured in quantity and used widely in the EU. An end user, who imports equipment from outside the EU which has not been through the EPS conformity assessment procedure, has the duty to ensure it complies with EPS and to hold the declaration of conformity and related documentation.

Does the above apply to equipment imported from Norway?

Norway is inside the European Economic Area (EEA) and as such is treated, for the purposes of EU Directives to which the EEA agreement relates, in exactly the same way as an EU Member State. This means that equipment, which is manufactured in Norway for supply within the EU, should be conformity assessed to the ATEX Directive EHSRs and CE marked in line with the Norwegian equivalent of EPS.


Question 4:

Can we continue to use the present design of category 2 electric motors in hazardous areas? Note that EPS obliges us to take equipment faults into account, e.g. a motor bearing failure may produce heat and thus increased surface temperatures.

Answer 4:

All existing equipment, which was on the market or in service in the EU before 1 July 2003, can continue to be used. From 1 July 2003, all new products (even if of identical design as previously supplied) must comply with EPS. For existing motor designs this will require the mechanical ignition potential aspects to be considered before a CE mark can be applied.


Question 5:

When an operator purchases motors, pumps, compressors, valves, pipework etc and installs them to make a functioning system are they ‘placing them on the market’ and therefore required to comply with EPS?

Answer 5:

Assembling separate, individually conformity assessed, products at the user’s premises is not considered to be manufacturing provided that the manufacturer’s instructions for the products are complied with and a ‘new’ product is not created by that assembly. The result of the construction work is an ‘installation’ and is outside the scope of EPS.

Where separate products are chosen and assembled from a modular range of parts according to the manufacturer’s instructions to form a working whole, it is normally the manufacturer of the parts who retains responsibility for the conformity assessment. The manufacturer is required to have had the modular range conformity assessed before placing it on the EU market.


Question 6:

Interconnecting pipework between process skids, process vessels etc can operate at elevated temperatures due to the temperature of the process medium. Does such pipework need to be CE marked?

Answer 6:

Refer to question 5 above. Such pipework is considered a part of the ‘installation’. It therefore does not have to be CE marked. Although outside the requirements for conformity assessment under EPS the provisions of the HSW Act, PFEER and PUWER remain applicable to such pipework.

However, if an EPS conformity assessed product, which is supplied by a manufacturer to a user as a complete entity, contains any interconnecting parts, pipes etc, then these are considered to form part of the product and must be included in the conformity assessment.


Question 7:

It is proposed to design and manufacture an in-house wellhead control panel which will comprise instrumentation, mechanical pressure gauges etc. Is the control panel required to be conformity assessed under EPS?

Answer 7:

The control panel is regarded as an ‘assembly’ (refer to Annex 2, paragraph 3) and therefore it must be conformity assessed in line with EPS requirements even though it has been manufactured ‘in-house’.

If each item of the control panel has been through the appropriate conformity assessment procedures, and the manufacturer’s instructions have been adhered to, then further conformity assessment is limited to any additional risks which have become relevant due to combining the products together.


Question 8:

I hold in stock a general service pump which was purchased prior to 1 July 2003 and which does not carry a CE mark. I propose to install the pump together with a newly purchased CE marked Ex electric motor on a skid for use after 1 July 2003. Will the combination need to be conformity assessed as per EPS?

Answer 8:

The pump, having been placed on the market prior to 1 July 2003, was not required to comply with the requirements of EPS at the time of supply. It would have complied with the relevant health and safety provisions, which were then applicable. Unless the assembly of the pump and the electric motor were to produce additional ignition risks when connected together, then no further conformity assessment is necessary (see Annex 2, paragraph 3).


Question 9:

Will EPS affect the procedure whereby certain equipment was accepted as being suitable for use in hazardous areas by being constructed in accordance with industry good practice, e.g. pressurised portable cabins containing electrical equipment?

Answer 9:

Any product which meets the EPS definitions of ‘equipment’, ‘protective system’, ‘device’ or ‘component’ will need to be conformity assessed after 30 June 2003. Pressurised cabins will be required to be conformity assessed if placed on the market as a product by a manufacturer or if manufactured for own use by an operator or contractor.

However, if a pressurised cabin were to be constructed in-situ at the end user’s premises by combining several EPS conformity assessed products in accordance with the product manufacturer’s instructions it will be regarded as an ‘installation’ and it will not require to be conformity assessed unless a ‘new’ product is created and/or additional risks created (see Annex 2, paragraph 5).


Question 10:

If an EPS mechanical or electrical product is subject to repair will it need to be conformity assessed before being returned to service? Will repairs undertaken before 1 July 2003 still be valid?

Answer 10:

Straightforward repairs to products are not within the scope of EPS. Any repair to an EPS product, which affects the EHSRs, could be a ‘substantial modification’ and therefore require the product to be conformity assessed again (see Annex 2, paragraph 14).

Products supplied before 1 July 2003, which complied with existing health and safety provisions at the time of supply, do not come within the scope of EPS and, therefore, neither do repairs to such products.


Question 11:

After 30 June 2003 can I continue to procure and use non-EPS spares from the original manufacturer for equipment that was placed on the EU market, or put into service, before 1 July 2003?

Answer 11:

Spares, which a manufacturer, a distributor or an end user has in stock on the 1 July 2003 are considered to be already on the market and, therefore, an end user may legitimately purchase and use them.

Note that spare parts, which are not ‘equipment’, ‘protective systems’, ‘devices’ or ‘components’ as defined in EPS, which are required to repair a product are unaffected by EPS (see Annex 2, paragraph 11).

Spare parts which are placed on the market after 30 June 2003 which are ‘equipment’, ‘protective systems’, ‘devices’ or ‘components’ as defined in EPS must comply with the conformity assessment requirements of EPS.


Question 12:

Will a product that is both electrical and mechanical be required to show both certification compliances separately, or will it be a combined assessment?

Answer 12:

The CE mark indicates that a product complies fully with EPS and any other EU product supply regulations that are applicable. The CE marking covers both the electrical and mechanical aspects of a product. Notified bodies have already issued certificates covering electrical and mechanical aspects of equipment.


Question 13:

When will the harmonised standards for hazardous area mechanical equipment be available?

Answer 13:

BS EN 13463 2001 Non-electrical equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres Part 1: Basic method and requirements has been published. Other parts of this standard are currently under development and will be listed on the EU website when published (see Annex 3, paragraph 5).

In the absence of an appropriate EU harmonised standard then EPS products are conformity assessed against the EHSRs utilising, in order of preference, existing European, national or other technical standards.


Question 14:

A manufacturer has an item of EPS equipment on the market that a user wishes to connect to an existing non EPS system/assembly, e.g. an individually certified intrinsically safe (IS) telephone handset for connection into an existing pre EPS certified IS telephone system. How will EPS affect the manufacturer and the end user?

Answer 14:

Manufacturer

The manufacturer of an EPS product is required to provide instructions with the product which must include, among other things, instructions for the safe putting into service. For a telephone handset this would require instructions as to how individual handsets can safely be connected to an EPS IS telephone system. If the manufacturer was also marketing the handset for connection to existing pre EPS IS telephone systems then relevant instructions for this application would also need to be supplied as required by HSW Act, section 6.

End user

A system/assembly produced on site, using a mixture of EPS and non-EPS parts is the responsibility of the user and not the equipment manufacturer. The user is required to comply with any instructions for putting into service supplied by the manufacturer of the telephone handset and also adhere to the instructions and the IS system certificate conditions for the existing telephone system. If the user is unable to make a decision about the connection themselves, then expert advice should be sought from a competent person, e.g. a notified body. The resulting extended telephone system will be a modification of a system that was on the market pre-EPS and, as such, EPS does not apply to it. 

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice

Updated 2011-09-29