What is the purpose of this legislation?
The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) and the Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations (PESR) cover the safe design and use of pressure systems. The PSSR were introduced under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act on 21 February 2000, while the PESR came into force on 8 December 2016 to replace the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999.
The aim of the PSSR and PESR is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy (pressure) resulting from the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts. The regulations are concerned with the design, manufacture and conformity assessment of pressure equipment and systems that involve:
- steam at any pressure;
- gases which exert a pressure in excess of 0.5 bar above atmospheric pressure; and
- fluids which may be mixtures of liquids, gases and vapours, where the gas or vapour phase may exert a pressure in excess of 0.5 bar above atmospheric pressure.
With the exception of the scalding effect, the regulations do not consider the hazardous properties of the contents released following system failure.
Who is responsible for compliance?
The PSSR and PESR are aimed at health and safety duty holders who are involved with pressure systems at work, including:
- designers and manufacturers;
- owners of mobile systems (i.e. equipment that can be easily moved, such as an air compressor, and taken from site to site);
- hirers of pressure equipment;
- users of an installed (non-mobile) system (e.g. a steam boiler);
- employers; and
- competent persons (deemed so due to their knowledge, skills and experience, particularly where certifications, trade registers or licences are involved), including contractors.
Any in-house competent person should be independent from the operating functions of the organisation and have sufficient authority to stop the use of the pressure equipment should the need arise.
What needs to be done?
The role and responsibilities of the competent person(s) include carrying out examinations in accordance with the Written Scheme of Examination (WSE) while also:
- reviewing the WSE and confirming whether it is suitable;
- producing a written report for each examination;
- notifying the user/owner of repairs required;
- identifying action where there is imminent danger;
- agreeing postponements of examination where appropriate; and
- drawing up or certifying WSE.
The WSE must include definitions of the items that make up the system and detail frequency of inspection and the nature of the required examination. Certain plant items will also require the competent person to be involved during the repair or modification and this will also be explained within the scheme.
The user of hired or leased equipment should make sure that a WSE is in place and that the certificate of the examination is current.