Pressure equipment directive: the current framework and the nature of forthcoming changes
30 June 2015
Author: John Colreavy, chartered engineer, and inspector, Health and Safety Authority
European legislation on the supply of pressure equipment has been updated in recent times with new provisions due to take effect next year. This article provides an overview of the current framework and the nature of forthcoming changes.
Directive 97/23/EC on pressure equipment initially came into force on November 29, 1999, but manufacturers had the option to use existing national standards until May 30, 2002, from when the directive became mandatory throughout the European Union. It is transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Pressure Equipment) Regulations [S.I.No.400 of 1999] with powers given to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
This directive will be repealed by Directive 2014/68/EU which will become applicable from July 19, 2016, apart from one matter dealing with the classification of pressure equipment (Article 13) which became operable from June 1 this year.
For Irish legislation, the 2015 European Communities (Pressure Equipment)(Amendment) Regulations [S.I.No.81 of 2015] aligns the classification of pressure equipment with Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 which implements the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals that has been adopted at international level within the United Nations structure.
Regulations to transpose the remainder of Directive 2014/68/EU are currently being prepared.
The PED applies to a wide range of equipment including pressure vessels, boilers, heat exchangers, pipework, pressure accessories such as valves and pressure gauges, safety accessories such as pressure relief valves. It applies to such equipment with a maximum allowable design pressure greater than 0.5 bar where this pressure arises from gases, liquefied gases, gases dissolved under pressure and liquids with a vapour pressure greater than 0.5 bar above normal atmospheric pressure.
The directive lists 21 exclusions including pipelines, equipment covered by the international conventions dealing with transport of dangerous goods by road, rail, sea and air. Also excluded is the common air receiver, which is subject to the Simple Pressure Vessel Directive.
Application of the directive
The directive sets outs essential safety requirements for pressure equipment. The necessary conformity assessment procedures and consequent involvement of notified bodies, are determined by the:
- Maximum allowable pressure;
- Vessel volume;
- Nature of the substance being handled;
- Type of equipment.
The revised directive has corrected some errors in the tables contained in the ’97 directive where the tables did not correctly reflect the criteria in the relevant article.
The directive also addresses CE marking, notified bodies, user inspectorates, European approval for materials, recognised third party organisations and various administrative provisions.
Effect of Directive 2014/68/EU
The biggest impact of this directive is to place clear duties on all economic operators in the supply chain. The original product type directives focused on the duty of a manufacturer placing a product on the market but arising from EU Regulation 765/2008 on Accreditation and Market Surveillance, there is an ongoing programme across a range of directives to place responsibilities on all parts of the supply chain.
In particular there is an explicit duty on importers to only place compliant equipment on the market by ensuring that the manufacturer has carried out the appropriate conformity assessment procedures, that the equipment is CE marked and accompanied by the necessary information and instructions for safe use.
Furthermore, importers shall indicate their name, registered trade name or registered trade mark and the postal address at which they can be contacted on the pressure equipment or assembly, or, where that is not possible, on its packaging or in a document accompanying the equipment or assembly.
Distributors have also to verify that the equipment is CE marked and accompanied by the relevant information and instructions that are clear, understandable and intelligible.
There is a duty on manufacturers to advise market surveillance authorities if they have reason to believe that products already supplied by them present a safety risk.
There is duty on importers and distributors to advise market surveillance authorities if they have reason to believe that products made available to them or already supplied by them present a safety risk.
From a technical point of view there are minor changes to the essential safety requirements and some adjustment to the conformity assessment modules.
The change in the classification of pressure equipment so as to be consistent with Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 is not expected to have a significant impact.
More information is available on the EU Commission website for the pressure equipment sector under the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Growth, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
CEN, the European standards body, has established contact points for information on pressure related standards such as EN 13445 for unfired pressure vessels, EN 13480 for metallic industrial piping and EN 12952 for water tube and shell boilers.
Queries for the Health and Safety Authority should be addressed to the Engineering and Market Surveillance unit.
Note on simple pressure vessel directive
Simple pressure vessels are defined in Directive 2009/105/EC as “any welded vessel subjected to an internal gauge pressure greater than 0,5 bar which is intended to contain air or nitrogen and which is not intended to be fired”.
From April 20, 2016, simple pressure vessels will be under Directive 2014/29/EU, which reflects the approach taken for the PED.
The Health and Safety Authority advises persons who examine documentation for compliance with directives/design codes to pay particular attention to documentation tendered as proof of compliance. Concerns have recently been expressed that some documentation currently in circulation from some notified bodies could be mistaken, for example, an EU type examination certificate but on closer inspection this is not the case as the certificate relates to a different activity, for example, examination of the technical file.
This is a separate issue to bogus documentation which appears from time to time where the notified body identified in the document was never involved with the product.
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