FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions that follow are the most common we are asked and we hope the answers are informative. Please call us if you want to discuss any issue or expand on any answer given.

Pressure Equipment

Do all air receivers need to be inspected? What is the calculation for deciding when an air receiver needs to comply with statutory regulations?

Within the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 the question is asked: Is the pressure x volume of the pressure vessel greater than 250 bar litres? If YES - then a written scheme and inspection certificate will need to be issued to comply with the legislation.

This calculation takes the pressure rated in bars and this is multiplied by the capacity of the tank in litres. This is commonly found on a plate on the receiver.

e.g. MWP 11 bar           50 litres capacity

In this example the maximum working pressure (MWP) is 11 bar multiplied by the 50 litre capacity, which gives a rating of 550 bar litres. 1 bar is equivalent to approximately 15 psi. As a general rule air receivers with a diameter in excess of 12 inches operating at 150psi will probably need to comply with the legislation.

The other components of the air compressor set (i.e. compressor and motor) do not need a statutory inspection. If an air compressor has no receiver it does not need an inspection. Hydrovane manufacture compressors with no receivers and so are exempt from the legislation.

What is the difference between an air receiver and an air compressor? Do they both need an inspection?

An air compressor has three component parts:

  • driving motor
  • compressor - which compresses the air
  • air receiver - which is a pressure vessel which stores the compressed air

The air receiver is the only part of the air compressor unit which needs a "statutory" examination. The air compressor and driving motor do not need an inspection - but should be regularly serviced/maintained by the user.

Some air compressors only have two components - driving motor and air compressor and the delivery of compressed air is immediate and the need to store air in a pressure vessel is not required. Because these compressors do not have air receiver they do not need examination.

The term "compressor" is also used for refrigeration compressors on fridges, cold stores, freezers and air conditioning systems. Refrigeration compressors only require examination under regulations where the driving motor exceeds 25kw. The majority of commercial cold stores operate using motors well below this limit.

Does the airtank on a JCB fastrack need inspecting?

If it has an air receiver which is operating in excess of 250 bar litres - YES

Pressure Washers/Steam Cleaners - do they need to be inspected?

Pressure Washers do not need a statutory inspection. They operate at very high pressure (some as high as 5000 psi) but do not have a pressure vessel and therefore do not need to comply with the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. It is recommended that the electrical controls be checked regularly to ensure they are adequately insulated and this is an inspection Vulcan Inspection Services can perform if required.

Steam Cleaners, if operating using steam at any pressure, will need an examination under the Pressure Systems Regulations. There is often confusion with the definition of these types of machines where people refer to steam cleaners when they really have a pressure washer that uses hot water - but not steam. Unless steam is involved an inspection is not required.

If VIS Engineer Surveyor attends a new inspection on an air receiver and a Written Scheme of Examination is required will he do it there and then?

Yes, he will complete written scheme of examination at time of initial inspection.

Under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 all users of pressure plant must have a written scheme of examination which defines the system in operation, the safety devices present, the type and frequency of examination required etc. This written scheme is normally issued once, when the machine is new or just installed and lasts the life of the pressure vessel/boiler and is amended as necessary. At periods stated by the written scheme, a competent person (ie VIS engineer) examines the item and issues report in accordance with the written scheme. If no written scheme exists - the competent person cannot examine the item of plant and issue the report.

The written scheme will be issued at no charge to the NFUM customer. Copies of lost schemes will be printed at no extra charge (if VIS issued the original!). NFUMutual cover the cost of issue of all written schemes by a separate arrangement with VIS.

How often do air receivers need to be examined?

An examination normally takes place once every twelve months. However the type and frequency of examination are defined by the written scheme.

For the majority of air receivers the first examination is a full internal thorough inspection. The next inspection, twelve months later is a working external examination and the following year another thorough. I.e. a thorough examination every two years.

With the agreement of the customer the written scheme can be amended so that both the thorough and external examination are completed at the same time and therefore only one examination takes place – every two years. Note: the price remains the same for the customer whether a one year or two year cycle of examination is maintained.

Do liquid nitrogen tanks need to be inspected? Do welding bottles need an inspection?

The obligation for "inspection" of these vessels is incorporated within regulations governing the carriage of dangerous goods. Whereas for air receivers and steam boilers the user is very often the owner, for gas bottles, propane vessels, oxygen vessels etc., the responsibility rests with the supplier of the vessels.

In the majority of cases these items are rented, or purchased and replaced when empty. The user (farmer) will need to check with their supplier that the vessels supplied have been examined and found to be in a safe working condition.

Where the farmer owns the vessel - he should first check with the supplier of the gas. The supplier is deemed to be the "competent person" for these items, because they have the knowledge of storage conditions, safety devices, filling procedures etc.

Vulcan Inspection Services can examine these items - but it is not our core service and the advice we can offer is limited because our engineers are not expert in the characteristics of all gases. An inspection from VIS will very often only duplicate what the supplier has already completed.

What are the implications of the new Combined Heat and Power Systems - are they statutory?

As long as the system does not fall into any of the following categories then it is excluded from the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and therefore does NOT require a statutory examination:-

  • it produces steam
  • the temperature of the water in the unit is above 100° C
  • any of the compressed gas expansion vessels operate in excess of 250 bar/litres

It the majority of cases it would be rare that an examination would be required however, each system is custom built to suit the client's requirements. If clarification is required as to the necessity for statutory examinations the VIS engineer can survey the premises to advise whether any of the three points apply.

Engineering Surveyor

Who is a "competent" person?

Different levels of competency are defined in HSE regulations. These can cover training, operation of machinery, daily inspection of working parts etc.

In terms of thorough examinations of machinery and plant to find defects likely to cause damage, the competent person is generally defined as:

"A person who has the appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the plant he is examining to enable him to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the plant."

In some regulations the academic qualifications of a competent person are clearly defined. In other regulations it is stressed that the competent person is sufficiently independent and impartial to allow objective decisions to be made.

This definition of competency for plant examinations has been tested following numerous court cases. It is not sufficient that you have used the item of plant for many years, or if you are the person who regularly maintains the machine. You must have the theoretical knowledge as well, and be sufficiently independent so that no conflict of interest exists. i.e. if you are the person maintaining the machine, you may be unlikely to report any serious defect to the HSE.

Engineer Surveyor would not start a piece of machinery/prepare the item of plant for inspection/did not have the tools to prepare plant. Why?

The engineer surveyor is acting as the "competent person" under the relevant regulations.

He needs to demonstrate an independent view of the item of plant in order to identify defects likely to cause danger. Preparing, opening, operating, moving items of plant conflicts with this independent approach. In addition the competent person should not repair any item, nor strictly recommend a repairer.

Vulcan Inspection Services is accredited as an independent inspection body under UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service). As part of this accreditation we have to demonstrate the independence of our inspection service. For this reason our engineer will not carry any tools and will ask the user to move plant in operation.

The engineer is happy to give advice on what needs to be completed before he can start his examination and in some cases may assist the client when on site. For some items e.g. steam boilers it is sometimes necessary to call upon the services of third party boiler service company to strip the boiler and then rebuild it.

In addition, our industry body SAFed (The Safety Assessment Federation) which represents the interests of companies engaged in independent inspection and safety assessment of engineering and manufacturing plant, systems and machinery, in liaison with the Health and Safety Executive, sets the procedures by which items of plant are examined and the activities performed by inspection engineers.

These procedures clearly state plant should not be prepared by an independent engineer.

What constitutes a serious defect?

The term “serious defect” is used to describe a defect found at the time of examination which:

  • for pressure equipment, presents an “imminent danger” to persons working in the vicinity
  • for lifting equipment, involves “an existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury” to persons using the machine or working in the close vicinity

The competent person who undertakes the thorough examination and identifies such defects will report them as requiring attention either immediately or within a specified time period and where regulations require will forward a copy of his examination report to the relevant enforcing authority – typically the local Health and Safety Executive.

Other “defects” may also be identified during an examination which are not considered to present any danger to persons. These other defects and observations will normally receive attention at the next routine maintenance of the equipment and, because they are not felt to provide an imminent risk of injury they are not reported to local enforcing authorities.

Once a serious defect has received attention the plant user should either:

a) for boiler/pressure plant – request a further thorough examination from the competent person who identified the “serious defect”.

b) for all other types of plant – attach the worksheet/invoice for the work undertaken in attending to the “serious defect” to the original report of examination. There is no requirement for the equipment to be re-examined.

Engineer Surveyor sent a copy of the serious defect report to HSE - does he have to do this?

Yes, as the "competent person" he is duty bound under the relevant regulation to send a copy report to the enforcing authority within a specified time limit if, in his opinion, the defect is likely to cause imminent danger to the person using the machine or persons working in the vicinity. However, this should never be a surprise to the customer as the engineer will always explain the defect, it's seriousness in relation to the continued use of the plant and will leave a hand written note at the time of his visit detailing the problem(s).

When the HSE call on the customer it will reflect badly if they have taken no action to remedy the situation. If they have already repaired or have made arrangements to replace the defective item, this is often sufficient to satisfy the HSE inspector and no further action is normally taken.

Lifting Equipment

Does lifting plant need re-inspecting before being put back into service following repairs which were recommended by Vulcan Inspection Services?

This will be stated on the report issued by the engineer. Normally for minor repairs the engineer will expect to see these remedied at his next visit. For more major defects the engineer may set a time limit for repair or replacement and for serious defects the engineer will state immediate attention and these reports are then sent to the enforcing authority i.e. HSE.

For boiler and pressure vessel serious defects the engineer normally has to re-examine the item before a clear report can be given and the item can be used again.

Generally for lifting items the repair or replacement invoice which rectifies the serious defect should be attached to the report - a re-examination is not normally required. The HSE will be satisfied with a defect report plus documentary evidence of defect being removed, replaced or repaired.

A common "serious" defect on lift trucks is wear in excess of 10% at the fork heels. Why does the engineer have to report this defect and what can be done to rectify worn fork heels?

The engineer is bound by the guidance issued by the HSE which gives information on British Standard 5639. Under part 5 of BS5639 guidance is given on inspection of fork arms, surface cracks, straightness of blade, fork angle, difference in height of fork tip of set of fork arms etc. BS5639 rejects fork arms that are worn at the heel more than 10% of the original thickness of the metal.

BS5639 recommends repairs be only carried out by the fork arm manufacturer. If welding is carried out, the welding method will need to include welding preparation, pre-heating, stress relieving, re-heat treatment …all to the manufacturer’s specification.

Use of mild steel materials and ordinary jobbing welding methods are likely to result in an unsatisfactory and unsafe repair. Most manufacturers do not even recommend welding at the heels of the forks to replace metal removed by wear as this only replaces the thickness and not the strength. Welding may in fact do further harm by mismatching of metals, localised heating, lack of heat treatment etc.

If an Engineer Surveyor visits a client and finds more items on site than he has been scheduled for will he inspect them there and then?

Yes, if it is practical for him to do so.

E.g. if Lift engineer is asked to inspect two forklift trucks and discovers a third telescopic handler he will complete the inspection. If he uncovers another five, in the majority of cases, he will have to make a further appointment.

Our engineers will check the numbers and type of items when they first make telephone call to the client and so can often reassess the time needed on site before arrival on site.

However, Engineers will not search all buildings on all locations they visit. They simply do not have the time to complete a full survey at each premises they attend.

VIS have found more faults than/made more recommendations than previous inspection company - are they just being over the top?

We pride ourselves on the professionalism of our engineer surveyor force. They are the best trained and most experienced independent inspection engineers in the UK. Very often the engineer that examines simple items such as air receivers, forklift trucks is the same engineer who the next day will be examining power station generation units or tower cranes.

All engineers employed by the member companies of SAFed (the Safety Assessment Federation) examine and report on items to an agreed procedure so there shouldn't be too many discrepancies between inspection companies.

How does PUWER 98 affect farms?

A European directive, The Use of Work Equipment Directive (UWED), was implemented in the UK in 1992 by the introduction of PUWER - The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

This directive has recently been amended and The Amending Use of Work Equipment Directive (AUWED) is being implemented in the UK by two new regulations:

  • PUWER 98 - Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
  • LOLER - Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations

PUWER 98 revokes and replaces PUWER and applies to the provision and use of all work equipment including mobile and lifting equipment. PUWER 98 also revokes and replaces legislation relating to Power Presses and Woodworking Equipment. LOLER applies over and above the general requirements of PUWER 98, to those specific activities which involve lifting equipment and operations (see later question).

Approved Codes of Practice and Guidance Notes are now available for both regulations. They are both very detailed documents and are available from HMSO Bookshops or from HSE website.

PUWER 98 applies to employers, the self employed and people who have control of work equipment. PUWER 98 should be considered alongside other health and safety legislation. In particular the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and the general requirements of other regulations to undertake risk assessments and put in place corrective measures.

The term "inspection" is used within PUWER 98 and should not be confused with the examination undertaken by an independent competent person (e.g. a VIS engineer). "Inspection" within PUWER 98 for work equipment builds upon the current but often informal practice of regular in-house inspection of work equipment. "Inspection" does not normally include checks covered by maintenance activity. The purpose of an inspection is to identify whether the equipment can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely and that any deterioration (e.g. wear and tear) can be detected and remedied before an unacceptable risk results.

PTO shafts and other guarded machinery are specifically mentioned in the regulations - they should be well maintained and guards should be in place at all times.

Farming activities are particularly targeted because of the number of accidents that occur each year. PUWER 98 is striving to reduce this number by introducing good maintenance regimes and formal training of users amongst other risk management techniques.

How does the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) affect farms?

LOLER applies to lifting equipment defined as "work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes it's attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it". LOLER applies in whichever industry the lifting equipment is used, including agriculture, which previously was not covered by specific regulations.

The scope of LOLER is therefore very wide. It is difficult to provide a definitive list of those items, which must be thoroughly examined because each user must assess the risk associated with their own lifting equipment and operations.

Where a risk assessment identifies equipment as requiring thorough examination, the advice from VIS, NFUM and the NFU (from their technical guidance manual) is that it should be done:

  • before first use (unless not used before and covered by EC declaration of conformity less than 12 months old)
  • where exposure may cause deterioration
    - for lifting equipment for lifting persons at least every 6 months
    - for lifting equipment at least every 12 months
    - an accessory used for lifting at least every 6 months
    or at intervals defined by the competent person
  • and following exceptional incidents (e.g. a major repair or after an accident)

Regulation 9 of LOLER requires lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined by a "competent person". The competent person carrying out a thorough examination should have appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined to enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment.

The guidance with the regulations states that the competent person should be sufficiently independent and impartial to allow objective decisions to be made.

The Vulcan Inspection Services engineer is a competent person in the terms of these regulations. The service engineer or plant user is unlikely to be a competent person for the reasons stated.

Examples of lifting equipment such as fork lift trucks, telescopic handlers, cranes, hoists, blocks will require thorough examination i.e. work equipment which has as it's principal function a use for lifting or lowering a load.

Lifting accessories such as chains, hooks, slings, attachments will require thorough examination.

Fore end loaders will not normally require thorough examination unless the item is being used for work for which it is not designed or where normal use could lead to exposure to injury or persons working under or around the loader. e.g. if the loader uses lifting attachments, pallet tines, chain/hook etc. or where the loader in normal use operates with persons working in the close vicinity, a thorough examination will be required.

Items specifically excluded from LOLER include, three point linkage on a tractor, conveyor belt moving articles on a horizontal level and winching to ground level and escalators

As with other legislation in the event of an accident or incident the farmer/user must be able to demonstrate "reasonable" precautions taken to remove or minimise the risk of injury or damage. An independent inspection by Vulcan Inspection Services will satisfy this requirement.

Engineer inspected Fork Lift Truck but he was only on site for 20 minutes and did not take the chains off - why?

The engineer is not servicing or maintaining the machine - he is assessing the whole truck, looking for defects likely to cause injury to persons or property. In some cases, if the machine is in good working order and is regularly maintained this can take as little as 15 minutes.

In relation to the chains, the engineer again has to assess whether they are defective or about to fail. He will periodically ask for them to removed and cleaned so he can check each link and assess whether they are stretched beyond safe limits. His experience tells him how often he should do this for each individual truck. For some trucks this might mean every examination, for others every second or third examination.

How often is a Thorough Examination required on lifting plant?

Under LOLER a thorough examination is typically required every 12 months. Lifting attachments and accessories need examination every 6 months.

What is an EC Declaration of Conformity?

An EC Declaration of Conformity is issued with new products which legally need to comply with any relevant EC Product Directive before the product can be supplied in the UK or anywhere else in the European Community.

Fork Lift Trucks are manufactured in line with the Machinery Directive and air receivers must comply with the Simple Pressure Vessels Directive. The Declaration of Conformity, along with CE marking, is confirmation that the product meets the “essential requirements” for safety.

The Declaration lasts the life of the machine unless major alterations are made. It must be passed to any new owner when the item is sold.

For lifting equipment the declaration allows new plant a short period exemption for thorough examination, normally 12 months.

Can I lift a person on my lift truck?

It is not advisable to lift a person using a lift truck. A more appropriate method of working at heights should be employed i.e. ladder, permanent/termporary scaffold, mobile elevating work platform. Under no circumstances should a person be lifted on the forks, pallet or bucket on the front of a lift truck.

The only acceptable use of a lift truck lifting a person is by using a specifically designed and tested carrier or working platform. These purpose built units are normally available from the manufacturer of the truck.

The recognised minimum examination frequency of a lift truck used to lift a person is six months.

Others

Client has a brand new item of plant - does this require an inspection prior to being put into service?

If pressure plant ie air receiver, steam boiler etc - YES

If lifting plant - when the declaration of conformity initial period has expired - normally twelve months after being purchased.

What responsibilities do businesses have for electrical systems? What services can VIS provide?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 contain a comprehensive list of legal requirements designed to prevent the risk of death or personal injury from the use of electricity from all places of work, regardless of size or number of employees.

The regulations require “all systems to be maintained so as to prevent danger”. Furthermore HSE Guidance states “regular inspection and testing is an essential part of any maintenance programme”.

The main purpose of the examination service offered by Vulcan Inspection Services is to identify serious defects likely to create an imminent risk of injury to any person.

The extent of our examination covers the accessible parts of the low voltage distribution system including power and mains lighting installations.

Our service does not normally include the fixed electrical plant or portable appliances but we can quote for these separately.

The examination frequency is dependant on the type of business and the risks presented but is typically once every three or five years but some trades may require annual examination (e.g. places of entertainment, petrol stations, nursing homes etc).

Do power presses and press brakes need an examination? What are my responsibilities as a user?

These machines are used to work metal in a variety of industries from small metal fabrication companies to major car and engine manufacturers. Their capacity can range from small “bench” type presses at half ton to presses which impart 4,000 tons of pressure.

They are mechanically driven and, in the case of a power press, operate using a clutch and flywheel. A power press clutch is a device designed to impart the movement of the flywheel to any tool when required.

An important aspect related to power presses and press brakes is the guarding employed to protect the user. The type of guards can vary from fixed to movable to electronic or photoelectric devices and the type of guard determines how often presses are examined.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) stipulate the type of examinations and tests required. The regulations place responsibilities on owners and users of power presses and press brakes to undertake a risk assessment of their operations and put in place measures to remove or reduce risk.

Users of these machines have significant responsibilities in the areas of training, maintenance and competence of users.

Regulation 32 of PUWER requires power presses and press brakes to be examined by a “competent person” and this examination should be completed at intervals dependant on the type of guards fitted to the press.

e.g. as a general rule the frequency is typically every 12 months for presses with fixed guards and at six monthly intervals for all others.

The examination and tests completed primarily seek to identify serious defects likely to cause an injury to persons using the machine or working in the close vicinity. They will also pick up on less serious defects which left unchecked could create a danger, along with a series of observations and comments.

Does Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) equipment need an examination?

Local Exhaust Ventilation Equipment (LEV) is designed to remove the harmful vapour, dust or fumes from the work area identified after a COSHH assessment.

LEV equipment is defined as “equipment which controls captures or contains airborne releases at or close to the point of emission by means of ventilation and then conveys them to a point of collection of release”.

LEVs are found in a range of trades from small garages and paint shops to major woodworking and metalworking risks.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) apply to all work activities where substances hazardous to health are used or produced. The regulations state that “every employer shall ensure that the exposure of his employees to substances hazardous to health shall be prevented or where it is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled”.

Where a control needs to be applied – LEVs are employed.

The COSHH regulations require that LEV plant is examined by a “competent person” and this examination should be completed at intervals dependant on the trade/business and the application of the equipment.

e.g. metal/shot blasting – exam required every month non-ferrous metal working – exam required every six months all other applications – exam every fourteen months.

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