Existing equipment issues
If an operator sells an existing fixed offshore installation, will they become the 'responsible person' under the EPS Regulations and be liable for the compliance of all products on the installation covered by the EPS Regulations?
An offshore installation does not meet the definition of 'equipment', 'protective system', 'device' or 'component', as defined in the EPS Regulations and so they do not apply to the offshore installation as an entity. In any event, the EPS Regulations do not apply to used or second hand products, which were on the market or put into service in the EU prior to 1 July 2003.
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?
The EPS Regulations allow any safe product which was in service in the EU on or before 30 June 2003 to remain in service indefinitely, whether it is European or non-European certified.
If an EPS Regulation compliant mechanical or electrical product is subject to repair, will it need to be conformity assessed before being returned to service?
Straightforward repairs to products are not within the scope of the EPS Regulations. Any repair to such a product, which affects the EHSRs, could be a 'substantial modification' and therefore require the product to be conformity assessed again.
After 1 July 2003, can I continue to procure and use non-EPS Regulation compliant spares from the original manufacturer for equipment, placed on the EU market or put into service prior to 1 July 2003?
Spares, which a manufacturer, distributor or end user had in stock on 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 the EPS Regulations – required to repair a product are unaffected by the EPS Regulations. Spare parts placed on the market from 1 July 2003 which are 'equipment', 'protective systems', 'devices' or 'components' as defined in the EPS Regulations, must comply with the conformity assessment requirements of the EPS Regulations.
A manufacturer has an item of EPS Regulation marked equipment on the market that a user wishes to connect to an existing non-EPS Regulation system / assembly (eg an individually certified, intrinsically safe telephone handset for connection into an existing pre-EPS Regulation certified, intrinsically safe telephone system). How will the EPS Regulations affect the manufacturer and the user?
The manufacturer of an EPS Regulation 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 Regulation intrinsically safe telephone system. If the manufacturer was also marketing the handset for connection to an existing pre-EPS Regulation, intrinsically safe, telephone systems then relevant instructions for this application would also need to be supplied, as required by section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
A system / assembly produced on site, using a mixture of EPS and non-EPS Regulation 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 intrinsically safe system certificate conditions for the existing telephone system. If the user is unable to make a decision about the connection themselves, expert advice should be sought from a competent person, eg a notified body. The resulting extended telephone system will be a modification of a system that was on the market pre-ATEX and, as such, the EPS Regulations do not apply to it. Any enforcement action being considered by inspectors would be appropriate under worker protection legislation, such as PUWER.
I am trying to assess my existing mechanical equipment as part of my review of my risk assessment required by DSEAR. For most individual pieces of equipment, there is no documentation suggesting anyone had previously considered the ignition risk at the time it was manufactured. How can I demonstrate it is acceptably safe?
Very little mechanical equipment is an ignition risk in normal operation, but it may become a risk in fault conditions. A thorough consideration of existing equipment would include the following steps:
- What is your own operating experience of equipment of this type? What types of fault are known to occur? Did these create actual ignitions or the obvious potential for ignition?
- What can the original manufacturer tell you about the risks associated with this type of equipment? Do they have any records of ignitions? Can they provide some estimate of the frequency at which different types of fault occur? Have they identified any types of fault that create an ignition risk you were not aware of?
- Has the equipment been adequately maintained? Do you have any records of maintenance done on the equipment? Do you have on file the original maintenance instructions? Do you have a reasonable basis for saying that the equipment remains as safe as it was when it was new?
- Are there any relevant standards for new equipment of this type? How does the existing equipment compare with these standards? Does the current standard identify any risks that were not fully understood or controlled at the time the old equipment was constructed? There is NO obligation to bring old equipment fully up to current standards BUT there may be simple changes that would improve the safety that could be put in place. Where such upgrades are reasonably practicable, they should be adopted. This has long been HSE's policy towards the continued use of old equipment.
I have bought a number of second-hand silos to use for storing a fine dust which I know is explosible. The silos are fitted with explosion vent panels but I have no data about the way the panels were sized, or about their opening pressure. How do DSEAR and the EPS Regulations apply to this equipment?
The EPS Regulations relate to the supply of new equipment and do not apply in these circumstances, unless something is modified sufficiently to make it effectively a new product. Simple silos and bins are not in any case ATEX equipment, unless they include as an integral part, equipment or fittings that create an ignition risk. Both DSEAR, and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) are relevant to bringing into service second hand equipment. The design of any equipment newly brought into service needs to be reviewed and verified as fit for purpose. PUWER regulation 10 makes clear that equipment brought into service at a new site needs to comply with the ATEX Directives, and / or other single market Directives that applied when it was first supplied or put into service. Explosion vent panels that have no information about the standard to which they have been built and tested, nor any details of the opening pressure, cannot easily be shown to be fit for purpose. A risk assessment under DSEAR would be likely to conclude that new panels, carrying the CE and Ex in a hexagon mark, should be fitted to the silos.