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UK Pressure Safety Regulations, 2000

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 31, 2013

In the United Kingdom, the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (2000) deal with the safe operation of a pressure system and the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 deal with the design, manufacture and supply of pressure systems.

The laws for pressure systems are comprehensive because many types of pressure equipment can be hazardous.

Pressurized equipment include steam boilers and associated pipework, pressurized hot-water boilers, air compressors, air receivers and associated pipework, autoclaves, gas (eg LPG) storage tanks and chemical reaction vessels.

If not properly controlled, pressurized equipment which fails can explode and cause serious injuries and lead to fatalities.

But putting proper controls in place will minimize the chances of any unwanted pressure releases occurring.

As with all safety management, the key to good control of pressurized equipment is to assess the risk associated with the specific equipment in the workplace and to use the hierarchy of control to develop the appropriate safeguards.

The risk associated with a the failure in pressurized  equipment depends on a number of factors including:

+  The operating pressure in the system;
+  The type of liquid or gas under pressure and its properties;

+  The suitability of the equipment and pipework that contains the pressure;

+  The age and condition of the equipment;

+  The complexity and control of its operation;

+  The other applicable conditions (e.g., operating temperature of equipment); and

+  The expertise of the people who maintain, test and operate the pressurized equipment.

To reduce the risk associated with pressurized systems, Managers need to know (and act on) some basic precautions:

+  Ensure the system can be operated safely;

+  Be careful when repairing or modifying a pressure system;

+  Following any major repair or modification, have the whole system re-examined before start-up;

+  Ensure there is a set of operating procedures for all of the equipment in the system, including in emergencies;

+  Ensure that there is a maintenance program for the system;

+  The maintenance program should account for the age, use and the environment in which the system is used.

In addition to those controls, a written scheme of examination is required for most pressure systems:

+  This should be certified as suitable by a competent person;

+  It should address all protective devices, every pressure vessel and those parts of pipelines that could be dangerous;
+  The written scheme must specify the nature and frequency of examinations, and include any special measures that may be needed to prepare a system for a safe examination.

Remember, a statutory examination carried out in line with a written scheme is designed to ensure your pressure system is suitable for your intended use. It is not a substitute for regular and routine maintenance.

And finally...

+  Ensure that pressure equipment complies with the relevant regulations;

+  Before using pressure equipment, ensure that you have a written scheme of examination if one is required.

+  Make sure that inspections have been completed by a competent person, and that the results have been recorded;.

+  Always operate the equipment within the safe operating limits;

+  Provide instruction and relevant training for the workers who are going to operate the pressure equipment;

+  Ensure to have an effective maintenance plan in place, which is carried out by appropriately trained people; and

+  Make sure that any modifications are planned, recorded and do not lead to danger.

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