UK Abrasive Blast Machine Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations are Changing - How Will It Affect You?

Next year it will be illegal to sell a new abrasive blast machine in the UK unless it has the new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark.

Recent updates to regulations for the supply of work equipment and machinery in the UK and EU will change the conformity assessment, marking and labelling of abrasive blast machines.

As it is the duty of both the manufacturer and owner of equipment to ensure that products comply with regulations, it is vital that you are aware of how they impact your blast vessels.

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How have the regulations been updated?

Whilst the CE mark is still relevant for supply into Europe, it has been replaced within Great Britain by the new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark.

Following a two-year transitional period, the UKCA mark must be displayed directly on all relevant products from 1st January 2023.

Pressure vessels which display the UKCA mark must also be supplied with an up-to-date Declaration of Conformity that indicates the details of the third party notified body on both the declaration and the product rating plate.

Requirements will still be underpinned by the Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 which was subsequently amended by Schedule 24 of The Product Safety and Metrology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.

The Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations Explained

The regulations apply to pressure equipment and assemblies where the maximum pressure exceeds 0.5bar (7psi) such as abrasive blast machines which generally operate at a much greater pressure.

Within the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing the regulations if pressure equipment and assemblies are being used in the workplace, whereas local authorities are responsible when the equipment is for private use or consumption. Conformity assessments should be carried out by Conformity Assessment Bodies (also known as Notified Bodies).

Elcometer Limited blast machines are approved to the design standards and rules of construction PD5500 –2015 and ASME Section VIII Div 1.

These standards conform to both the Pressure Equipment Directive and the Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulation which ensure the manufacturer is complying with:

  • Internal Quality Processes and traceability
  • Internal and Industry Standard Manufacturing procedures
  • Using suitably qualified materials for pressure vessels
  • Operate assembly lines with trained operatives to the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) (2014/68/EU) and ASME Section VIII Div 1.
  • Ensuring final testing & inspection complies with all relevant regulations

What to look out for when purchasing a new abrasive blast machine

It is not just the responsibility of the manufacturer but also the owner to ensure that products are compliant with the Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations.

Two simple ways to establish that your abrasive blast machine is compliant is by checking that a rating plate is clearly visible and that the pot has been supplied with operating instructions as well as a Declaration of Conformity which both comply to the latest pressure directives.

All Elcometer blast machines are supplied with relevant documentation and display a pressure rating plate which is labelled with both UKCA and CE marking and contains the following information:

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  • The year of Construction
  • Identification of the pressure equipment according to its nature, such as type, series or batch identification and serial number
  • Essential maximum/minimum allowable limits
  • Test Pressure and date of test at manufacturer
  • Notified body for approval details
  • Pressure Vessel Design Code
  • Manufacturer’s details and contact information

Regulations stipulate that a Written Scheme of Examination which has been produced or certified by a competent individual must be completed before a pressure vessel can be used.

This individual needs to be employed by the owner of the equipment as they are required to demonstrate awareness of the system’s safe operating limits and ensure it is in good working order.

Over the lifetime of the product, the operator is responsible for ensuring that regular inspection and service schedules are maintained based upon the amount of use the unit is expected to have.

A simple annual inspection may include:

  • Non-destructive testing of wall thickness to ensure corrosion/ wear has not been excessive
  • Hydrostatic pressure test to ensure welds on the main vessel are still sound
  • General inspection of working parts for wear & tear
  • Assessment of all associated protective devices

When should an abrasive blast vessel be replaced?

A common question that Elcometer Experts are asked is how often a blast machine should be replaced. Whilst this factor clearly depends on the frequency of use, the environment in which it used is also extremely important; aggressive environments such as coastal regions will rapidly increase the rate at which blast machines corrode.

Consequently, it is vital to be aware of the machine’s corrosion tolerance. A major factor in the design of pressure vessels is allowing for corrosion degradation over time which manufacturers should account for through the steel thickness used in the original assembly. It can be common to find blast units in the field which are designed with a steel thickness of 4mm or less and whilst this can be acceptable depending upon the grade of steel used, owners should consider whether this is appropriate for long term use.

Durable

Elcometer blast machines incorporate a 6mm steel thickness, accounting for a corrosion allowance of 1mm. Designed for durability, the pots feature a highgrade coating which is typically found on large infrastructure, such as buildings and bridges, for added protection of the base material.

Furthermore, the application of a specific approved grade of steel ensures operator safety by lending itself to ‘leak before break’ properties at high pressure.

Whilst it is common to only replace an abrasive blast machine when it fails a hydrostatic test, this practice is not recommended due to the high dangers associated with failure at full pressure. When combined with abrasive media, operating a pressure vessel close to failure can result in sudden and unexpected damage.

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Future fit abrasive blast machines

Elcometer manufacture a range of high performing abrasive blast machines suitable for blast rooms as well as large infrastructure projects, all of which are engineered to conform to the relative pressure and safety directives for the region where the equipment is to be utilised.

We are pleased to announce that Elcometer is now one of the first UKCA approved suppliers for abrasive blasting machines and have recently certified all of our blast vessels against PD5500:2018 +A2:2019 Category 3, ensuring they are compliant with the latest design and safety factors.

For full product information on our complete range of abrasive blast machines, please click here.