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Laidler issues warning on machine standards

03 June 2010

Many machine manufacturers may be inadvertently relying on out of date standards to demonstrate compliance with the Machinery Directive, warns safety and compliance consultant Laidler Associates.

Only standards harmonised with the current Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, which can into force at the end of December 2009, can now be used to demonstrate compliance. Many companies, however, are continuing to reference superseded standards that were harmonised with the previous, and now obsolete, Machinery Directive.

In some cases, the changes made to standards to bring them into line with the new Directive are minor, said Paul Laidler, Managing Director of Laidler Associates, but in other cases, much more extensive and significant changes have been made. This applies, for example, to EN ISO 12100-1 and EN ISO 12001-2, two very important Type A standards governing the design of all machines.

Irrespective of how much a standard has changed, however, it is essential to reference the appropriate version, otherwise it is impossible to be certain that the requirements of the Directive have been met. This means that no Declaration of Conformity can be issued and no CE marking can be applied to the machine in question. In these circumstances, the machine cannot legally be sold or traded in the EU.

The situation is further complicated because some important standards have not yet been harmonised with the current Machinery Directive. A significant example is EN 60204-1, which covers safety requirements for electrical equipment of machines. Where no harmonised standard is available, machine builders must make their own judgement about whether the existing standard can be relied upon to show compliance with the Directive, or whether some alternative method must be used.

At the time of writing, it is reported that 85% of the standards relevant to the Machinery Directive have been published in their harmonised form and that a further 10% will be published in the coming weeks or months. That still leaves 5%, of course, and where no harmonised standard is available, machine builders must make their own judgement about whether the existing standard can be relied upon to show compliance with the Directive, or whether some alternative method must be used.

The situation relating to standards and the Machinery Directive is far from ideal, said Paul Laidler. It is complicated, it is confusing and it is changing all the time. Machine suppliers that want to be sure of their ground and confident in applying the CE marking will, therefore, benefit greatly by seeking expert advice.


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