Safety critical elements good repair and condition



1. To remind inspectors of the legal framework and provide advice on the sort of information that they should seek when examining a duty holder's approach to ensuring Safety-Critical Elements (SCEs) remain in good repair and condition. This SPC replaces SPC/Enforcement/45 which has been withdrawn.


2. Inspectors should look for the existence of a well-defined management system whereby the duty holder can assure themselves that each SCE remains in good repair and condition and that periodic reviews of SCE performance against clear criteria are undertaken. Sufficient information should be recorded for the duty holder to ensure that the objectives of the Offshore (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 (SCR) will be met. In addition, verification arrangements should be in place to regularly test and review this process for each element; those verification arrangements must themselves be kept under review.


3. The Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) s.2 requires employers to ensure that any plant which they provide is, and is maintained, in a condition that is so far as reasonably practicable safe and without risks to health. The Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1999 (PUWER) make more detailed provision in respect of work equipment and requires employers to ensure that work equipment is suitable for the purpose for which it is provided (r.4) and that it is maintained in an efficient state, efficient working order and good repair (r.5) [maintenance is defined by the result rather than the means]. Work equipment will include some, but not all parts of an offshore installation which have been identified as safety-critical under SCR.

HSWA and PUWER require employers to ensure the safety of work equipment through periodic inspection. Inspections are also required where work equipment is of a type where safe operation is dependent on its condition in use or where work equipment is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which may lead to significant risk to persons (r.6). It is up to the employer to determine the nature and, often, the frequency of the inspections required and ensure that those who carry out the inspections are competent to do so and have the necessary knowledge and experience.

Inspectors should note that there is no legal requirement for a maintenance log, though where there is a maintenance log, the employer has a duty to keep it up to date (r.5(2)). However, employers have to ensure that the results of any inspections carried out further to regulation 6 are recorded (r.6(3)) - these records have to be kept until the results of the next such inspection are recorded. PUWER guide para 163 indicates what inspection records should normally include [note that physical evidence is required under r.6(4)].

The Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 (PFEER) r.19 places similar duties on installation operators and owners in respect of the construction, suitability and maintenance of certain plant on the installation provided for the purposes of PFEER. This provision is supplemented by a requirement to prepare and operate a written scheme for the systematic examination of such plant by a competent and independent person, and for recording of the results of that examination. The written scheme is not a substitute for routine maintenance and test programmes, but provides an independent check that certain plant complies with relevant PFEER requirements. PFEER also contains a specific requirement for the establishment of appropriate standards of performance for certain measures.

SCR r.2(5) requires the duty holder to have a written scheme of verification to ensure the safety critical elements are suitable and remain in good repair and condition. A record of the SCEs identified and the proposed verification scheme are then reviewed by an independent and competent person as a check on the duty holder's compliance with legal requirements described above.

Compliance with the Regulatory framework described necessitates that the duty holder should have criteria against which it is possible for them to evaluate continuing suitability, good repair and condition. To show compliance, the duty holder should hold appropriate records relating to the equipment. Some duty holders claim that their Planned Maintenance System (PMS) stores the information to show the requirements of the regulations are met. HSE's experience is that this is often not the case. Maintenance routines often do not ask the "right questions" to support equipment condition or availability status, or the answers are not properly recorded. Below is an outline of the information which inspectors should seek to show that SCEs are suitable and remain in good repair and condition. Where enforcement action is thought appropriate, compliance with PUWER, PFEER, DCR and/or HSWA should be considered before the duties arising further to the verification requirements of SCR.

Performance standards are often used to define suitability and serve as a test for whether SCEs remain in good repair and condition. Standards of performance are used to measure the verification procedures put in place to comply with PFEER. The PFEER ACOP (para 57) indicates that performance standards should be measurable and auditable and may be described in terms of functionality, survivability, reliability and availability. Some of the PFEER compliance measures will also be SCEs.

SCEs will require a formal system of maintenance. It is considered that the following information is the minimum required to show SCEs remain in good repair and condition:

Maintenance schedule to describe:

  • What components (location, identification)?
  • How often?
  • What tests, examinations etc.?

Results of the work, in particular:

  • Its state (working/any faults/within calibration etc.)
  • Down time/repair time (where required to demonstrate availability etc.)
  • What action is required to bring into specification
  • What action has been taken (ie to whom the faults have been reported, status of remedial work)

SCE specific information:

  • What SCE does the routine affect?
  • Is the SCE degraded during the maintenance?
  • What additional safeguards are taken if a SCE is degraded (eg prearranged precautionary action for foreseeable fire pump outage, gas head outage etc.)

Further information

Further information can be obtained from OSD5.3, 01256 404164

Further information and guidance can be found in SPC/Enforcement/155 (PFEER) and SPC/Enforcement/158 (SCR)

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Updated 2020-12-09