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Is your espresso machine compliant?

Operating an espresso machine which uses pressurised team and is older than 14 months (from the date of new supply) may be a risk; this is because you have a statutory obligation to meet the stringent legal requirements set by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations Act 2000.

That is, if you continue to use an espresso machine with a steam boiler without the required testing (see below,) you will be in contravention of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 which will

1) Potentially invalidate your liability insurance claim made regarding any incident on that machine. (e.g. scalding of operator or greater.)

2) Since the explosion at the supermarket, enforcement teams in a number of areas are already requiring proof of certification.


In practice this most often means that an insurance company (to whom the ultimate liability would fall should an event occur) insists on using one of their dedicated or designated test engineers (typically at a cost of around £250-350.) The additional ‘rub’ on this is that these engineers require an espresso machine engineer to assist them access the parts for testing and carry out the tests as they do not have the espresso machine knowledge. This can result in an additional £200 charge.

Ultimately HSE legislation is generally enforced by local authorities. However, it is fair to say that most local authorities have not pushed this issue, because, dare we say it - they may see implementing it, as overkill given the risks proposed. It must also be said that the industry itself has too ‘ducked’ this issue to a large extent. This is down to the deterrent cost of compliance, underpinned by a lack of clear guidance, lack of enforcement and the generally perceived level of risk attached to both possible boiler failure and noncompliance from a health and safety perspective.

It appears to many in the industry that insurers are the only drivers of enforcement and that this is driven by their desire to supply their own inspector “well why shouldn’t they take the extra revenue if someone has to!” So, one asks is this because the risk and legislation after 10+ years has been recognised or is it an opportunity for fund raising. This maybe a cynical view and a bit harsh on the insurers but there it is. However, they do have the law on their side and would bear the brunt of a claim should a boiler ever again cause injury or damage.

So, what's the answer?

There are potentially 100,000 plus Espresso machines which are more than three years old in the UK, in addition to countless boilers, and new higher pressure Bean to Cup Machines coming to the market place. It is said ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law, however how many espresso machine operators know nothing of this requirement, let alone understand the detail of the legislation.

I know most people within the industry reading this will say “one recorded problem out of 100,000 plus machines over at least 15 years, no big deal.” However, this viewpoint would undoubtedly change if it was your machine which caused harm to either your staff or customers.

Here at NCASS, it is our mission to aid the safety of your business and would urge you to give us a call on 0121 603 2524 if you have any questions pertaining to the safety of your business.

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