The only equipment permitted in a hazardous area is equipment that meets the requirements of the European Product Directive, by way of the British EPS Regulation. The use of equipment certified as such by a notified body meets this obligation without question. But what of all the equipment installed prior to July 2003, before the regulation was fully implemented? The fact is that, provided it met health and safety requirements at the time and remains fit for purpose now, it may still qualify.
Where uncertified equipment is already installed in a hazardous area, it is sometimes possible to demonstrate compliance by means of a risk assessment. The evaluation is set against the fundamental Essential Safety and Health Requirements (ESHRs) of the regulations as embodied in the equipment construction standards, and the employer must fully justify his decision. For this purpose it is essential to engage someone who is familiar with the standards and to keep a record of the assessment.
We have been able to advise clients on a number of occasions in this respect, with a view to limiting disruption and saving on costs.