Better regulation

20 March 2008

The Construction Equipment industry needs fewer and clearer regulations. A product approved in one EU member state should also be accepted in other member states. The industry must be well informed well about upcoming EU directives, and new laws must be transparent in order to ensure there is no conflict or ambiguity between directives. Technical requirements must be based on facts and the legislative process must be transparent.

This need is not contrary to the creation of a better environment nor to improving health and safety. The construction equipment industry does not strive for lower objectives in these areas. However, CECE is keen to remove excessive administrative burdens.

Recent years have seen a huge legislative burden imposed on the industry, which has swallowed up huge amounts of R&D resources. CECE is keen to improve safety, protect workers and safeguard the environment, the main thrust of recent Directives.

However, the industry is increasingly seeing legislation that is excessive or ignores the economic impact and administrative burden for manufacturers and customers. The industry and the Commission alike should take lessons from areas that have been regulated with poorly thought-out legislation.

Noise

Noise pollution in urban areas has increased in recent years. Most is caused by traffic and transport, but construction equipment also contributes. Our industry has progressively reduced noise levels over the years, partly because quieter machines represent a competitive advantage. Nevertheless the Commission felt the need to launch a Noise Directive in 2002, followed by a second stage in 2006 calling for a further reduction of 3dB (a further -50% reduction).

However, the EU failed to check the specific impact for different machine types and for various construction machines no technical solution was available to further reduce the noise emissions. Another problem with noise is that it is often the process – tipping stone from a bucket for example – rather than the machine itself which is the source.

CECE successfully argued that the reduction planned for 2006 was not achievable for various types of construction equipment and the Directive has been amended. CECE is currently working closely with the Commission on future development of the Noise Directive.

Emissions

It is clear everyone should be effectively protected against air pollution. In construction equipment, emissions from diesel engines will be progressively reduced so that by 2014 the reduction will be up to 90 to 95% of what they were in the late 1990s.

The reductions are almost the same as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission values required in the US. For CECE it was very important to obtain a complete alignment with US legislation, to avoid additional variations.

However, introduction of these new technologies is very difficult for small and medium sized enterprises (SME's) and CECE has therefore asked the Commission to extend the ‘flexibility scheme' above the 20% allowance. This would enable SMEs to adapt their designs with a very limited impact on the environment compared to the absence of a flexibility scheme.

A particular challenge is the interrelation between the Exhaust Emission Directive and the Outdoor Noise Directive. Complying with the requirements of the Exhaust Emission Directive will result in increased noise emissions mainly due to higher injection pressures applied. Until now European legislators have neglected this.

Another important issue is fuel quality. Low sulphur diesel fuel – 10 parts per million (ppm) – is needed for future emission stages. CECE successfully convinced the Commission to amend the fuel directive. The proposed amendment states that 10 ppm sulphur diesel fuel is to be available from December 2009.

Safety

A great contribution towards increasing the safety of construction equipment was the introduction of the Machinery Directive and the more than 100 related harmonised standards for our sector. At the beginning of the century, the Commission felt the need to initiate a revision of the machinery directive. Thanks to efforts made by CECE the changes have been limited. This revised directive will be applicable as of 29 December 2009. One of the greatest benefits for our sector is that “builder hoists” are now within the scope of the machinery directive.

Our industry has also placed a lot of emphasis on protecting operators. User friendliness, low noise and drastically reduced vibration levels have reduced the number of accidents on construction sites as well as the number of occupational diseases due to vibration.

Nevertheless, vibration exposure has to be determined by the user according to the Physical Agents Directive for Vibration. The main problem is contractors are not in the position to determine their staff's exposure levels, not to mention the bureaucratic burden.

Unfortunately CECE has not been able to avoid this unjustified Directive. We will work hard to convince the EU to re-assess this Directive at the next possible opportunity.

World View

While regulations are intended to be applied within the EU, decision-makers must take into account that the construction equipment industry acts on a global market. It is necessary, therefore, to seek global harmonisation as much as possible. Regulations should be limited to significant aspects and specify objectives or essential requirements. They should be supplemented by harmonised standards which can aid global harmonisation. Administrative requirements should only consist of the necessary elements.

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