Compressed air

Work in compressed air is a very rare activity usually associated with tunnelling, pipe-jacking, shaft sinking and caisson-making operations.

Main health issue

The main health problem associated with work in compressed air is decompression illness. This is an acute condition which occurs as pains around the joints.  It can be a more serious and potentially life threatening condition which affects the central nervous system.

Other conditions that can occur are barotraumas, principally affecting the ears and sinuses, and dysbaric osteonecrosis which is a long-term, chronic condition damaging the long bones, hip or shoulder joints.


Work in Compressed Air Regulations only applies to construction work.The principal contractor must appoint a competent compressed air contractor.


Work in compressed air must be notified to HSENI at least 14 days before the work commences. A safe system of work must be put in place and supervised by competent persons.


A contract medical advisor must be appointed. All employees who work in compressed air must be under adequate medical surveillance by an appointed doctor. Annual medical examination of the workers is required.


Key legislation

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.


Related to Compressed air

Most recent publications

Access to information

How to request information from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme.