The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.
The Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 came into force on the 8 December 2016 and have subsequently been amended by Schedule 24 of The Product Safety and Metrology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.
These Regulations cover pressure equipment and assemblies with a maximum allowable pressure PS above 0.5 bar.
HSE is responsible for enforcing the PE(S)R in the case of pressure equipment and assemblies being used in the workplace, and local authorities would be responsible where the equipment or assemblies are for private use or consumption.
The Regulations apply to design, manufacture and conformity assessment of pressure equipment and assemblies of pressure equipment with a maximum allowable pressure above 0.5 bar.
Conformity assessment is carried out by Conformity Assessment Bodies (also known as Approved Bodies). There is a list of Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited under PE(S)R on the GOV.UK website.
The regulations do not apply to:
- excluded pressure equipment and assemblies (specified in Schedule 1 to PE(S)R)
- pressure equipment and assemblies placed on the market before 8 December 2016
- pressure equipment or assemblies placed on the market on or before 29 May 2002 if they comply with the safety provisions in force in the UK on 29 November 1999
- the assembly of pressure equipment on the site of and under the responsibility of a user who is not the manufacturer.
- Pressure equipment – vessels, piping, safety accessories and pressure accessories.
Where applicable, this includes elements attached to pressurised parts such as flanges, nozzles, couplings, supports, lifting lugs etc
- Vessel - a housing designed and built to contain fluids under pressure.
This includes its direct attachments up to the coupling point connecting it to other equipment. A vessel may be composed of more than one chamber
- Piping - piping components intended for the transport of fluids when connected together for integration into a pressure system.
This includes a pipe or system of pipes, tubing, fittings, expansion joints, hoses, or other pressure-bearing components as appropriate. Heat exchangers consisting of pipes for the purpose of cooling or heating air are considered as piping
- Safety accessories - devices designed to protect pressure equipment against the allowable limits being exceeded
Such devices include devices for direct pressure limitation, such as safety valves and bursting discs etc, and limiting devices which either activate the means for correction or provide for shutdown or shutdown and lock out, such as pressure switches or temperature switches etc
- Pressure accessories - devices with an operational function and having pressure-bearing housings
- Assembly - several pieces of pressure equipment assembled by a manufacturer to constitute an integrated and functional whole
Schedule 2 of PE(S)R details the essential safety requirements (ESR) that qualifying vessels must satisfy. Additionally, there are details of how the different products are classified, the technical requirements that must be satisfied, and the conformity assessment procedures that must be followed.
Go to the frequently asked questions for advice on how to comply with the ESRs - essentially, by either:
- producing a technical file that addresses each ESR in turn
- manufacturing using standards that have been designated by the Secretary of State
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have produced guidance on pressure systems.
Note: The Regulations do not apply to the assembly of pressure equipment on the site and under the responsibility of the user, as in the case of industrial installations. In such cases, the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000, which contain 'in use' provisions, will apply.
Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations 2016 (SPV(S)R)
SPV(S)R sets out 'essential requirements' (for example, for safety), written in general terms, which must be met before products are placed on the market in the UK. Standards fill in the detail and are the main way for businesses to meet the 'essential requirements'. The Regulations also say how manufacturers are to show that products meet the 'essential requirements'.
Products meeting the requirements are to be appropriately marked and carry the UKCA marking which should mean that they can be supplied in the UK, provided they are safe.
The Simple Pressure Vessels (Safety) Regulations 2016 has been subsequently amended by Schedule 21 of The Product Safety and Metrology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.
Simple pressure vessels have the following characteristics or limitations:
- intended to contain air or nitrogen at a gauge pressure above 0.5 bar but less than or equal to 30 bar
- not intended to be exposed to flame
- manufactured in series, that is, more than one vessel of the same type is manufactured during a given period by the same continuous manufacturing processes, in accordance with a common design
- of welded non-alloy steel or non-alloy aluminium construction or non-age hardening aluminium alloy
- a maximum working pressure (PS) of not more than 30 bar, and a PS.V (the product of PS and the vessel's capacity expressed in litres) of not more than 10,000 bar.litres
- a minimum working temperature of not lower than -50°C, and the maximum working temperature is not above 300°C for steel vessels and not above 100°C for aluminium or aluminium alloy vessels
Additionally, vessels consist of either of the following:
- a cylindrical component with circular cross-section, closed at each end, each end either outwardly dished or flat and also co-axial with the cylindrical component
- two co-axial outwardly dished ends
SPV(S)R does not apply:
- where vessels are designed specifically for nuclear use, and where vessel failure might or would result in an emission of radioactivity
- where vessels intended specifically for installation in, or for use as part of the propulsion system of, a ship (as defined in relevant merchant shipping legislation) or aircraft
- for fire extinguishers
Schedule 1 of SPV(S)R details the essential safety requirements that qualifying vessels must satisfy. It also gives details of how the vessels should be categorised, the technical requirements to be satisfied, and the conformity assessment procedures to be followed.
Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR)
The duties imposed by PSSR relate to pressure systems for use at work and the risk to health/safety.
The aim of these Regulations is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts.
Before using any qualifying pressure equipment (new or otherwise), a written scheme of examination (WSE) must be in place, and an examination undertaken.
Pressure systems are defined as:
- a system comprising one or more pressure vessels of rigid construction, any associated pipework and protective devices
- the pipework with its protective devices to which a transportable pressure receptacle is, or is intended to be, connected
- a pipeline and its protective devices
A relevant fluid is:
- steam at any pressure
- any fluid or mixture of fluids which is at a pressure above 0.5 bar above atmospheric
- a gas dissolved under pressure in a solvent (acetylene)
Relevant fluids do not include hydraulic oils. Hydraulic systems, while using high pressures, do not store energy in the system and so are not covered by this legislation.
The PSSR Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), Safety of pressure systems (L122), will help you determine which regulations (if any) apply.
There are many exceptions to PSSR, including:
- a pressure system which forms part of, or is intended to form part of, a weapons system
- any pressure system which is the subject of a research experiment
- any tyre used or intended to be used on a vehicle
Twenty-five complete exceptions are detailed in PSSR Schedule 1 Part I.
Three partial exceptions are detailed in PSSR Schedule 1 Part II.
If in doubt, the useful and instructive ACOP Safety of pressure systems provides additional information and advice.
The difference between a pipeline and pipework
The easiest way to distinguish between the 2 terms is to remember that pipelines cross boundaries and pipework does not (except where there is a common supply to a number of units). The terms also include associated protective devices, valves, compressors and so on.
The PSSR ACOP Safety of pressure systems provides useful definitions of pipework and pipelines as these can vary between different regulations (specifically PSSR, PE(S)R and the Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996).
Who has duties under PSSR?
Employers (also known as 'dutyholders'), including:
- the owner of a mobile system, that is, one that can be easily moved, such as an air compressor taken from site to site
- the user of an installed system, that is, one that is not a mobile system, such as a steam boiler
The user of hired or leased equipment should make sure that the WSE is in place and that the certificate of examination is also current.
PSSR Schedule 2 allows a supplier of an installed system to assume responsibility in writing for the WSE, the operation, the maintenance and the record keeping.
In general terms, the role and responsibilities of the competent person can be summarised as follows:
- carry out examinations in accordance with the WSE including:
- review WSE and confirm it is suitable
- produce a written report for each examination
- notify user/owner of repairs required
- identify action in case of imminent danger
- agree postponements of examination, where appropriate
- draw up or certify written schemes of examination
An important feature of the in-house competent person is that they should be independent from the operating functions of the organisation, and they must have sufficient authority to stop the use of the pressure equipment should the need arise.
For more detail about the role and responsibilities of the competent person see the Approved Code of Practice (L122) Safety of pressure systems, particularly paragraphs 28 to 34 and 100 to 102.