Machinery revision

24 April 2008

While the revised machinery Directive does not introduce any radical changes to the current version, it should build on its achievements in improving the safety of construction equipment, and helping to ensure its free movement around the EU.

The original Machinery Directive was introduced in 1989. The current version, which defines many of the requirements for the ‘CE marking’ of construction equipment, was first applied in 1995. There have been moves afoot to refine this law since 2001 - a timescale the industry felt was much too soon. However, recent years have seen work restart on this project with a view to improving it.

The revised Directive (2006/42/EC) was published in the official journal on 9 June 2006, and came into force 20 days later. Member States have the normal two years - until 29 June 2008 - to transpose it into national law. It will then come into force on 29 December 2009. Until then the current consolidated version (98/37/EC) applies.

Scope

One of the first features of the new law is that its scope and definitions have been improved. Equipment like site hoists and cartridge-operated fixing tools are now included in the scope of the Directive.

The areas of crossover between the Machinery Directive and the Low Voltage Directive, which covers equipment running on 50 to 1000 Volts AC or 75 to 1500 Volts DC, have also been tidied up. The new Machinery Directive lists six categories of electrical equipment that are subject to the Low Voltage Directive alone. For other electrical devices, the safety objectives of the Low Voltage Directive apply for the electrical risks, but obligations on conformity assessment and placing these products on the market are governed by the Machinery Directive.

The borderline with the Lifts Directive has also been clarified. The new text modifies the scope of the Lifts Directive so that, for example, elevators with a travel speed less than 0,15 m/s will be excluded from the Lifts Directive and will be subject to the Machinery Directive.

The range of safety components subject to the Machinery Directive has been clarified. An indicative list of safety components is given in a new Annex, and this list can be updated to cover new products.

Health & Safety

The essential health and safety requirements have not seen major change, although several have been redrafted. There are new requirements dealing with the risks associated with machinery serving fixed landings, to take into account the extension of the Directive to construction site hoists and slow-moving lifts.

In addition to these, there are new, more precise requirements for noise and vibration, and certain requirements currently applied to mobile and lifting equipment have been made more widely applicable.

On a wider front the new Machinery Directive will allow the Commission to prohibit or restrict the placing of a category of machines on the EU market if it presents risks by virtue of its technical characteristics. Such a decision will only be allowed to be made after consultation with the Member States and other interested parties.

Conformity

As with the current Machinery Directive, most manufacturers will continue to certify their own machinery. Among other things this involves ensuring the technical file is available, provide essential information such as the manual, draw up the EC ‘Declaration of Conformity’ and affix the CE mark to the machine.

An important improvement in the new law is that manufacturers of the types of equipment listed in Annex IV of the Directive will have a wider choice of procedures. As well as self-certification, manufacturers can opt for either machine type-examination by a Notified Body or approval of the manufacturer’s quality assurance system by a Notified Body.

The new Directive also obliges Member States to monitor the performance of Notified Bodies, and to withdraw or suspend their notification if they fail in their duties.

It is also more explicit about the duties of Member States in organising market surveillance. National governments’ obligations will include ensuring there is co-operation between market surveillance authorities, ensuring transparency and respecting confidentiality.

Overview

While there have not been major changes to the Machinery Directive - in CECE’s view such radical steps were not required anyway - some improvements have been made. Tidying up the ‘loose ends’ of definitions, improving safety requirements and improving the policing of the Directive should mean machines are safer and the internal market for construction equipment will function better.

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