A Discussion On Pressure System Safety Regulations

Pressure systems safety regulations were introduced in the UK in the form of “The Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations 1989”. These were superseded on the 21st February 2000 by “Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR)”. A new Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) was introduced at the same time, with an updated version in 2014. Today, many businesses still don’t know of these regulations, or continue to ignore them.

In the mid 19th century there were many steam boiler explosions, on average one per week between 1866 and 1908, and these were only the ones which were reported. (Information from internet search as it was a little before our time). Prior to PSSR, the Factories Acts required boilers to have regular maintenance, a safety valve, steam gauge and water gauge present for safety reasons.  In today’s age, some inspection houses still see as “all that is needed”, and don’t include “pipework” as defined in the regulations. The regulations call for the whole system to be considered for examination, after all it is the “Pressure Systems Regulations”. 

The aim of the regulations clearly states, “to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its components”.

The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations, ACoP has a legal status; “if you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault”. It is a criminal offence not to comply and fines now can be hefty with the HSE able to charge for their time under Fees for Intervention (FFI) at £163.00 per hour. This can turn out to be expensive in relation to non compliance . It has been advised that there can be around 2000 intervention in respect of Pressure Systems Safety Regulations made by the HSE.

So, who are the duty holders to these regulations? 

The user of an installed system and the owner of a mobile system, either hired or leased, should ensure that the system they supply is compliant to PSSR. 

The regulations also apply to service providers, installers and manufacturers to provide information alongside their obligation to ensure the system does not give rise to danger.

Since 1991, Mandate Systems have been helping businesses both small and large to comply with the legislation. Over the last couple of years either because of the number of interventions by the HSE, increases in fines, or the customer awareness of the legislation, we have found there is a lack of information being provided by suppliers of new and second-hand equipment and services providers. We aim to provide honest and independent advice to educate the end user on their obligations, to prevent a breach resulting in unplanned FFI charges. 

Get your free copy of L122 from the HSE website follow the link. Pressure Systems Safety Regulation L122.

Check If You Need A Written Scheme of Examination

Does your pressure system create steam? EG autoclave, steam boiler, coffee machine...

Frequently Asked Questions

Mandate Systems is packed with guidance and advice on Pressure Systems Safety, but we have also provided answers to some frequently asked questions. Please let us know if there is a question you would like the answer to that isn’t listed here.

A WSE is a legal document that is required on most pressure equipment under the Pressure System Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR). The WSE lists the components within a system, examinable items and the frequency these should be examined. This is all noted in your WSE.

It is a common misconception that new equipment does not require a WSE, however this is incorrect. All equipment that falls under the regulations must have a WSE in place before it is used for the first time, regardless of age.

Any person deemed competent to create a WSE document can do so if they have the relevant experience and knowledge, however the WSE document must be certified by either an Incorporated or Chartered Engineer, depending on the system size (usually this will require Chartered Engineer qualification sign off).

Under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations you must have a WSE in place prior to the use of the system. This system will include a rigid vessel and a relevant fluid, mainly gas (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, steam among others), with a pressure at 0.5 bar or above excluding steam, which is at any pressure.

The competent person determines the frequency of examination by item, and notes this in your written scheme. It is most common for the items to be examinable every 12 months.

This is a legal requirement under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR) and is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authority. If the regulations are not adhered to, unlimited fines or prosecution from HSE are a possibility.

Equipment capable of operating at 250 bar litres or above, or steam at any pressure, will fall under the regulations. To work this out multiply the maximum working pressure X vessel volume – e.g. 10.0 bar x 50 litre = 500 bar litre.

The WSE is the obligation of the owner so hire units should be covered by the owner of the equipment, unless otherwise agreed.

The written scheme should be completed by an independent body so that impartiality can be proven. This can be completed by a service provider as long as they are competent in this field and impartiality can be evidenced. It is paramount to note however, that the person certifying the WSE must also have the relevant qualifications (e.g. Incorporated or Chartered Engineer).