Plant & Works Engineering
Understanding the PSSR
Published:  22 June, 2023

The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (S.I. 2000 No 128) (PSSR) relate to pressure systems for use at work and the risk to health and safety. Vanda Jones, Executive Director at the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) outlines the responsibilities as an owner or operator

Users or operators of a compressed air (pressure) system, you will be keen to understand their obligations, especially since the regulations are designed to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts.

Pressure System Safety Regulations (PSSR) - The basics

The HSE states that ‘everybody operating, installing, maintaining, repairing, inspecting and testing pressure equipment should have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their job safely’, meaning suitable training is essential.

A written scheme of examination is required for most pressure systems, which should be drawn up (or certified as suitable) by a competent person – and the system should not be operated or hired out until the scheme is in place and the system fully examined.

The terminology

The PSSR defines two distinct categories of personnel that may be responsible for pressure equipment- a user and an owner.

A ‘user’ refers to the person or business who has control of the operation of the pressure system or such a vessel. Once a pressure system is installed, the primary duty for compliance rests with the user.

An ‘owner’ refers to the person who owns the pressure system or his/her agent.

The PSSR also places duties on designers, manufacturers or any person who supplies equipment intended to be part of a pressure system. This is to ensure that it is fit for purpose, so as to prevent danger. As a user or owner, these issues should have already been addressed by your service provider and the equipment should be fully compliant. Your obligations The Pressure System Safety Regulations define the legal responsibilities of users and owners, and these are many and varied.

For example, before a system can be designed or installed it is the user’s or operator’s responsibility to ensure that the safe operating limits are specified (and that they are subsequently reviewed and kept up to date).

This is where it is advisable to consult with a proven service provider, such as a verified BCAS member - who can help to determine which of the regulations apply to the pressure equipment subsequently provided.

In addition, the user of an installed system and the owner of a mobile system must ensure that the system is kept properly maintained and in good repair, to prevent danger.

Written Scheme of Examination

A key component of the PSSR is that a Written Scheme of Examination (WSE) is required.

The process of drafting a WSE is laid out in the regulations, as is the process for the periodic examinations, reporting and record keeping of pressure systems.

Also detailed are the attributes required for the persons that are permitted to certify and carry out examinations under a Written Scheme of Examination. In both instances, these are referred to as Competent Persons.

Competent persons

So, what is a ‘Competent Person?’ The terms actually refer not to the individual employee that carries out duties under the Regulations but to the body which employs the person charged with those duties. Thus, the definition of competent person makes it clear that the legal duty to comply rests with the employer, and not with an individual, unless that person is self-employed.

To be considered a competent person for the purposes of carrying out the examination or certifying the Written Scheme of Examination, the engineer should have sufficient practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the type of system under examination. This will then enable any defects or weaknesses to be identified and an assessment made of their significance in terms of the integrity and safety of the equipment.

It is important to remember that where certification of a Written Scheme of Examination is required, the regulations state that suitable, competent persons are qualified to incorporated of chartered engineer level. More information can be found in the BCAS Factsheet 315.

In all cases it is the responsibility of the owner/user to ensure the scope of the scheme is appropriate - yet it may well be the case that that this is outside of your experience.

BCAS offers a popular ‘Certificate in Understanding the Pressure Systems’ Safety Regulations’ course to help businesses train their staff.

This blended learning workshop, one of several specialist training courses in its portfolio, covers the written scheme of examination in relation to compressed air systems. It provides knowledge of the PSSR, related standards and codes of practice and is designed to provide the understanding required as a user, manager or provider of written schemes of examination.

To find out more about the PSSR training course visit To find a BCAS member that can assist with your obligations under the PSSR visit