If you're a pressure equipment manufacturer, find out the safety requirements you need to meet, your role, and methods of compliance.
UK installers, manufacturers and importers of pressure equipment must comply with the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999, which brings the Pressure Equipment Directive 97/23/EC into UK law.
It is an offence for a ‘responsible person’ to place on the market, put into service or otherwise supply pressure equipment and assemblies above specified pressure/volume thresholds, unless they meet essential safety requirements covering design, manufacture and testing, and satisfy appropriate conformity assessment procedures.
This guide covers the main points of the regulations, including definitions of pressure equipment, what a manufacturer’s role is, safety requirements involved and methods of compliance in detail.
Products covered by the Pressure Equipment Regulations
The Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 apply to the design, manufacture and conformity assessment of pressure equipment with a maximum allowable pressure greater than 0.5 bar.
The regulations do not apply to excluded pressure equipment and assemblies, pressure equipment and assemblies placed on the market before 29 November 1999, or pressure equipment or assemblies placed on the market on or before 29 May 2002 which comply with the safety provisions in force in the UK on 29 November 1999 and do not bear a CE marking (unless required by another European Community (EC) Directive).
The regulations cover pressure equipment - vessels, piping, safety accessories, pressure accessories and assemblies. These are defined as follows:
- vessel - a housing designed and built to contain fluids under pressure
- piping - piping components intended for the transport of fluids when connected together for integration into a pressure system
- safety accessories - devices designed to protect pressure equipment against the allowable limits being exceeded
- pressure accessories - devices with an operational function and having pressure-bearing housings
- assemblies - several pieces of pressure equipment assembled by a manufacturer to constitute an integrated and functional whole
Product classification under the Pressure Equipment Regulations
In order to know how the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 apply to specific items of pressure equipment, you will need to classify the equipment according to its perceived level of hazard.
In order to classify pressure equipment, you will need to know the:
- type of equipment concerned - vessel, steam generator or piping
- state of the intended fluid contents - gas or liquid
- fluid group of the intended contents - Group 1 or Group 2
Group 1 fluids are those classified as explosive, extremely flammable, highly flammable, flammable (where the maximum allowable temperature is above flashpoint), very toxic, toxic, and oxidising.
Group 2 comprises all other fluids, including steam
For pressure accessories, you will need to know the:
- state of the intended fluid contents - gas or liquid
- classification of the intended fluid contents - Group 1 or Group 2
- maximum allowable pressure
- volume in litres or the nominal size (DN) as appropriate
If the volume measurement is appropriate for the accessory concerned, the category of the equipment should be determined by plotting the maximum allowable pressure and volume on the relevant vessels chart.
If the nominal size is appropriate, the category of the equipment should be determined by plotting the maximum allowable pressure and the DN on the relevant piping chart.
Where both the volume and the nominal size are considered appropriate, both the relevant vessels and piping charts should be used and the pressure accessory classified in the highest resulting category.
The charts are in Annex B of the regulation guidelines. Download pressure equipment regulations guidelines (PDF, 579KB).
Safety accessories are generally classified under Category IV unless they are manufactured to protect specific pressure equipment, in which case they may be classified in the same category as the equipment they protect.
Technical requirements under the Pressure Equipment Regulations
All pressure equipment and assemblies must be safe when placed on the market and put into service. Once your have classified your equipment according to its perceived level of hazard, you will need to decide how the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 apply to your product.
Sound engineering practice
Equipment must be designed and manufactured according to sound engineering practice (SEP) to be classified as such.
SEP equipment must be accompanied by adequate instructions for use and must bear markings to permit identification of the manufacturer or authorised representative established within the EC. CE marking must not be affixed to SEP equipment.
Essential safety requirements
Equipment classified in Categories I to IV must meet requirements for design, manufacture, testing, marking, labelling, instructions and materials considered to be essential for safety reasons. The regulations require safety accessories and pressure accessories intended for equipment classified in Categories I to IV to meet the essential safety requirements.
Assemblies that include at least one item of pressure equipment classified in Categories I to IV, which the manufacturer intends to be placed on the market and put into service as assemblies, will also be required to meet the essential safety requirements.
Conformity assessment of pressure equipment
The higher the category of your pressure equipment, the greater the hazard and the more demanding the requirements for conformity.
Equipment in Category I will be subject to your own internal production control. The modules for products in Categories II, III and IV will require the involvement of Notified Bodies, appointed by EU member states, either in the approval and monitoring of the manufacturers’ quality assurance system or in direct product inspection.
Recognised third-party organisations may also be appointed by member states specifically to approve welding procedures and personnel, and to authorise non-destructive testing personnel as required for pressure equipment and assemblies in Categories II, III and IV.
User inspectorates may also be appointed by member states to carry out the tasks of Notified Bodies within their own organisations under Modules A1, C1, F and G only. The CE marking should not be affixed to pressure equipment and assemblies assessed by user inspectorates.
In the UK, Notified Bodies, recognised third-party organisations and user inspectorates are appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. These bodies are collectively known as Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). You can view a list of UK CABs on the EU website (filter by legislation).
Conformity assessment of assemblies
Assemblies must go through a three-stage conformity assessment procedure:
- each item making up an assembly must be assessed as described above
- the integration of the component parts of the assembly must be assessed according to the highest category applicable to the equipment concerned, disregarding the category of any safety accessories
- the protection of the assembly against exceeding the permissible operating limits must be assessed according to the highest category applicable to the equipment to be protected
CE marking on pressure equipment
Once conformity assessment has been completed - and if the equipment or assembly complies with the provisions of the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 - the manufacturer will be required to affix the CE marking to each item of pressure equipment or assembly and draw up a declaration of conformity.
The CE marking will need to be accompanied by the identification number of the Notified Body if it is involved at the production control phase. The CE marking must not be affixed to SEP equipment.
CE marking is a visible declaration by the manufacturer or his authorised representative that the pressure equipment to which it relates satisfies all the provisions of the regulations. By affixing CE marking to pressure equipment, you are making a statement that the equipment meets the requirements of all relevant directives.
The presence of CE marking does not mean that the pressure equipment cannot be challenged by an enforcement authority if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement of the regulations.
You should also note that CE marking is not a European safety mark or quality symbol intended for consumers. Its purpose is to indicate to enforcement authorities that the electrical equipment is intended for sale in the European Economic Area.
For more information see the guide on CE marking.
Enforcement of the Pressure Equipment Regulations
In Great Britain, the Health and Safety Executive - and in Northern Ireland, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland - is responsible for enforcing the regulations in relation to pressure equipment and assemblies for use in the workplace.
In Great Britain, trading standards authorities - district councils in Northern Ireland - are responsible for enforcing the regulations in relation to pressure equipment used in a non-work environment.
If tried in a Magistrates Court, the maximum penalty for contravening the Pressure Equipment Regulations is currently a fine of £5,000 or, in some cases, imprisonment for up to three months, or both.
If tried in a Crown Court, the penalty for contravening the regulations is currently an unlimited fine or, in some cases, imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
When deciding the penalty the court will take the severity of the offence into account. The Pressure Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/1267) provide for cases to be tried in either the Magistrates or Crown Courts. The regulations provide a defence of due diligence.
Failure to comply with safety regulations concerning simple pressure vessels means:
- those vessels cannot legally be supplied in the UK
- prosecution and penalties on conviction of a fine of up to £5,000 or, in some cases, of imprisonment for up to three months, or both
Under the Pressure Equipment Directive, EU member states are required to take all appropriate measures to withdraw from the market pressure equipment bearing the CE marking and used in accordance with their intended purpose which are liable to endanger the safety of people and, where appropriate, of property. The member state must immediately inform the European Commission of such action and give reasons.
Where, after consultation with the parties concerned, the Commission finds that the measures are justified, it informs that member state and the other member states.
Member states are required to take action against anyone who affixes the CE marking to pressure equipment which does not conform to the Pressure Equipment Directive and so inform the Commission and other member states.