The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996

  • Operations notice: 59
  • Issue date: Jan 2003

A short guide for the offshore industry

1. This notice provides practical advice about The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996 (EPS), which come fully into force on 30 June 2003. It highlights certain key features of the Regulations and, in particular, their application to the offshore industry. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the Regulations. A guide to EPS will be published in early 2003.d

What is EPS?

2. EPS applies to the supply of equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The Regulations cover both electrical and non-electrical equipment. EPS came into force in 1996 with a transition period for compliance which ends on 30 June 2003.

3. EPS implements the requirements of EU Directive 94/9/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX). EU Directive 99/92/EC on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres (Explosive Atmospheres Directive (ATEX 137)) has been implemented by the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). Further advice about DSEAR has been published in Operations Notice 58.

4. EPS requires that, after 30 June 2003, the responsible person (usually a manufacturer or their authorised representative) who places equipment on the market or puts equipment into service, has ensured that the essential health and safety requirements for the equipment have been satisfied. This includes carrying out the relevant conformity assessment procedure and application of the CE mark. EPS does not affect equipment that is already in use on offshore installations on 30 June 2003.

5. EPS applies to fixed offshore installations but not to seagoing vessels and mobile offshore units together with equipment on board such vessels or units. EPS therefore excludes FPSOs and floating production platforms (FPPs), as well as MODUs, flotels and other mobile units.

Who has duties under EPS?

6. Because EPS stems from a European product directive most of the responsibilities lie with the equipment supplier/manufacturer or their authorised representative. However, a person who manufactures equipment for their own use, or who imports directly from a non-European Economic Area (EEA) source (eg the United States), also has a duty to comply with EPS.

7. In addition, all employers have a duty under regulation 10 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), to ensure that an item of work equipment provided for use conforms with any essential Community requirements in terms of its design and construction. This includes requirements set out in EPS, where the EPS Regulations apply.

Who will enforce EPS?

1. HSE's Offshore Safety Division enforces EPS in the offshore industry.


  • The Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres 1996 SI 1996/192 HMSO 2002 ISBN 011 053999 0
  • Supplying New Machinery INDG270 HSE Books 1998 ISBN 0 7176 1560 X
  • Buying New Machinery INDG271 HSE Books 1998 ISBN 0 7176 1559 6
  • ATEX Guidelines (First edition) European Commission 2001 ISBN 92 894 0784 0

The Stationery Office publications are available from:

The Publications Centre,
PO Box 276,
London SW8 5DT.
Tel: 0870 600 5522
Fax: 0870 600 5533
Website: (they are also available from bookshops).

HSE priced and free publications are available by mail order from:

HSE Books,
TSO Customer Services,
PO Box 29,
NR3 1GN.
Tel: +44 (0)333 202 5070

Information on DSEAR is also available from HSE's website at

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
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

Updated 2021-02-16