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Getting to grips with legal matters

24 July 2017

AirUser asked the British Compressed Air Society to answer some of the questions it is most frequently asked. Three of these are detailed below

Compliance with standards and legislation seems to be the most popular theme with questions relating to responsibility for the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) for a leased or hired compressed air system, the legality of using Jubilee clips, and Air Receiver CE marking.

Who is responsible for Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 where an installed compressed air system is subject to lease or hire?

It is normally the owner/user who is responsible for the regulations, but this can vary if pressure systems are leased or hired.  In these cases, the supplier may agree in the contract to be responsible for discharging the duties of the user under all the provisions of regulations.  

8(1) and (2)- production of and maintenance of the written scheme of examination

9(1) - ensure that an examination in accordance with the written scheme is done

11(1) - provide adequate and suitable instruction on safe operation and emergency   actions

12  - ensure that the system is properly maintained in good repair, so as to prevent danger

14 - shall keep records including the last report of examination and any information which may ensure continued safe operation and allow modifications and repairs to be done safely

Hire purchase agreement, conditional sale agreement, or lease

You should note that when an installed compressed air system is financed by a hire purchase agreement, conditional sale or lease, then the customer not the finance company is responsible for compliance with the regulations as long as; the company providing the finance has not had physical possession of the pressure system, or has had physical possession of it only for the purpose of passing it on to the customer.

A related question to the above is the need for a written scheme if a compressor is hired out to a user.  The PSSR applies if the system contains a receiver and operates above 0.5 barg; so if the supplier is only supplying an air compressor and no receiver, then it is not considered a pressure system and there is no need to offer a written scheme.

If the supplier is providing a compressor and an air receiver then this does fall within the scope of Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and they can offer to accept responsibility for compliance with the regulations.  

Some companies that hire out compressors consider that the air-oil separator can be a pressure vessel and therefore offer a written scheme for the compressor.  However, the reason that a pressure vessel needs examining is to inspect for corrosion, which could lead to failure and the release of stored energy.  The probability of corrosion in an air-oil separator is far lower than for a normal air receiver.  It also has a much smaller volume compared to air receivers, so the amount of stored energy is far lower and poses a much lower risk to users. All of which means a written scheme is not necessary in order to comply with the Pressure Systems 

For more information see BCAS factsheet 309-1 Pressure Systems Compliance Lease or Hire.  

Which legislation states that Jubilee clips are illegal?

This type of clamp is widely used to secure hoses supplying compressed air to hand-held tools.

There are no legal provisions which restrict or prohibit the use of such a clamping device. i.e. ‘Jubilee clips’ are not banned

Legislation does not recommend or prohibit a specific component, the law would never focus that deeply into product safety.  What is in place for the user of the equipment are two legal requirements:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, which requires a risk assessment in the workplace for work activities and equipment. 
  • The Provision of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) requires the provision of safe work equipment. So, if the risk assessment shows that the use of the first type of coupling does not provide a safe level of use in that situation, then an alternative type of coupling may be the solution. Having said that, PUWER also requires that the employee is trained in the safe use of the equipment and having done this training they could achieve an acceptable level of safety.

The use of such clamps requires some skill to ensure that the joint made is sufficiently tight to provide a secure fitting once under pressure, but not too loose to cause slippage under pressure.  

You should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when tightening them. Over-tightening can cause damage to the hose and consequent danger to the operator or other personnel.  This is important where hand-held tools are used since this type of clamp is easily adjusted and tampered with, so the risk assessment may highlight this as too great a risk for specific situations.

In conclusion there is no specific legislation that bans jubilee clips or, conversely insists on another specific safer solution. What employers should take note of is the presence of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and PUWER.  These require, in more general terms, that the employer determines and implements a safe acceptable solution.  

Is my receiver legal if it has no CE mark?

Air receivers placed on the market in the European Union since 1994 must bear the CE mark, but air receivers that pre-date 1994 are still fit-for-purpose.  

Generally, in the UK, these older air receivers will have been manufactured to BS 5169. Many older air receivers are thicker (3mm initial thickness plus 0.75mm corrosion allowance) and if they are properly maintained and examined for corrosion (BCAS recommends ultrasonic thickness testing) then they pose no safety risk.  The key action to reduce corrosion is to drain the air receiver frequently to prevent the build-up of condensate.  

BCAS has, however come across post 1994 air receivers imported from the USA without a CE mark and these were not compliant. While they were made to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard, so were well engineered and safe, if a pressure vessel is placed on the market in the EU it must have a CE mark. To be compliant the air receiver needs to be certified by a notified body and this could be more expensive than purchasing a new, compliant air receiver.

BCAS provides advice to navigate the EU directives and the UK Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 to help businesses avoid such situations, therefore complying in a cost-effective and timely manner. 

For more information see BCAS factsheet 852-2 Air receiver legislation and 851-2 Air receiver selection and conformity