18 October, 2018

Putting safety first

08 December, 2017

The duties imposed by PSSR relate to pressure systems for use at work and the risk to health/safety and its regulations stipulate that a competent and experienced engineer should certify a Written Scheme of Examination (WSE). The in-house competent person should be independent from the operating functions of the organisation, and they must have sufficient authority to stop the use of the pressure equipment should the need arise.

At all times it remains the user/owner’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the PSSR. However, Schedule 2 of the regulations allows a supplier of an installed system to assume responsibility in writing for the WSE, the operation, the maintenance and the record keeping. In this role, it is seen as the supplier’s duty to advise users of their legal obligations and, in many cases, providing a WSE is an intrinsic part of the manufacturer’s aftermarket offering when it incorporates a total responsibility service plan.

There are further regulations that apply to the operation of compressed air systems and associated tools, namely the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). These require equipment to be suitable for intended use, safe to use, maintained in a safe condition, inspected for correct installation, and used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction, and training. However, unlike PSSR, compliance with PUWER is not mandatory.

Safety training and responsibility

While the appropriate level of operator supervision is an obvious remedy to mitigate unnecessary risk, all of these personally hazardous situations in the workplace can be prevented by a combination of correct installation, appropriate safety training, regular planned maintenance and monitoring schedules to ensure equipment is in the optimum operational condition.

Although it can be argued that end-user management should be responsible for operator safety training, there is an implicit obligation of responsibility within the manufacturer’s supply chain and service management to take the initiative for implementation of these measures.

This obligation is addressed fully by the leading manufacturers of compressed air systems and their authorised distributors. Every effort is made to promote a positive safety culture that ensures their own employees are skilled and competent towards health and safety issues and focused on reminding their customers of the legal obligations, innovations and improvement opportunities towards compressed air safety within their operation. The supply organisation’s major aftercare role, if a service contract has been taken out by the end users, is to assure safe operation of equipment through scheduled inspection and condition monitoring programmes.

A compressor systems manufacturer who is ahead of the game should be able to provide its customers with the expertise of field service engineers. Ideally, they should have the benefit of at least 20-30 hours of annual safety training, and be ready to provide advice on any safety issues affecting all types of pressure equipment that may be installed on site.

Maintenance and system audits

It is a given that compressors and associated equipment should be installed and maintained correctly to ensure safe operation. System energy audits play a major role in identifying health & safety risks from the operation of below-standard installations.

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