History of EEMUA


EEMUA’s origins date back to the intense period of change, reconstruction and economic growth that followed the Second World War. Industries like chemicals and oil and gas experienced a boom, creating many new products in areas such as polymers, plastics and insecticides. The technologies used for production evolved rapidly too; something that standards and guides failed to keep pace with.

The early years

At the end of the 1940s, it was this widening gap that saw a number of major UK industrial players, led by Anglo-Iranian Oil (a predecessor of BP), Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Courtaulds, Lever Brothers and Shell Petroleum, come together in order to address matters. Their vision was to collaborate, to establish standards in areas such as equipment and materials selection and specification, and engineering plant construction; and as a result, to drive greater standardisation and good practice into industry.

In 1949, the Engineering Equipment Users Association (EEUA) was founded, and in 1950 EEUA was formally incorporated as a limited not-for-profit company. A number of high quality guides soon followed. One of the first: EEUA’s guide to ‘Factory stairways, ladders and handrails’, became an industry standard and in 2014 saw its 8th edition published.


Marked by the oil shock the petroleum industry evolved and changed. This resulted, in 1983, in the absorption of the Oil Companies’ Materials Association (OCMA) into EEUA. This fusion resulted in the birth of the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association – EEMUA – the name the association operates under today. 1974 saw the introduction of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act. Emblematic of a trend towards greater regulation, EEMUA’s focus shifted towards good and best practice for regulatory compliance.


The new focus was confirmed by the tragic Piper Alpha disaster in 1988; still rated as the world’s worst offshore accident. EEMUA responded by developing CompEx, a ground breaking competency scheme, in order to ensure that personnel working in hazardous areas had the knowledge and theoretical underpinning to understand their work.


The early 1990s were marked by incidents such as the fire at a Texaco refinery in Pembrokeshire in the UK and the Union Carbide chemical disaster in Bhopal in India; all linked to failures in alarm systems. Responding, EEMUA added expertise in alarm systems to its portfolio, developing publications such as EEMUA Publication 191: ‘Alarm systems – a guide to design, management and procurement.’
Storage tank expertise became another strong thread in EEMUA’s work, with the association producing a series of publications, and launching the CompeTank Scheme in 1995. CompeTank is a unique programme that trains, assesses and certifies those who are involved in tank storage and distribution operations.


The early 2000s saw environmental protection rise rapidly up the agenda; a trend that continues to gather pace. EEMUA continues to be active in many environment-related areas.  

The association today

The association today has a modern governance structure with the creation of a board of directors in 2012 and articles of association updated in 2014, to reflect its strategic direction. It has seen a move away from lengthy formal meetings, towards audio and web-based communications. EEMUA also launched a comprehensive new web portal in 2014 and has expanded both its technical team and its training and competency activities.

The association today boasts some 45+ members spanning many sectors and its technical activities have expanded to cover the full scope of industrial asset management. EEMUA members now benefit from the breadth and depth of its members engineering expertise in a myriad of areas, from initial design to decommissioning.

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Forthcoming event

EEMUA Seminar - Engineering the Energy Transition

Location: Live Online Seminar

Dates: 22/06/2023

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