The ticking clock of conformity

07 May 2008

The new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC was adopted on 25 April 2006 and came into force on 29 June 2006. It must be transposed into Member States' national legislation by 29 June 2008 and will be applied from 29 December 2009. What this means to manufacturers is that their Declarations of Conformity for products will no longer be able to refer to the current Machinery Directive 98/37/EC. If they have also received EC Type Examination certificates for their products from a notified body, which refer to Directive 98/37/EC, this documentation will also cease to be valid.

To enable a 'smooth transition' between December 2009 and January 2010, manufacturers should ensure that their products also comply with the new and revised Essential Health & Safety Requirements of the new Directive 2006/42/EC. This may involve, in some cases redesign, testing and possibly putting the machine forward for a new type examination. If the product has been type approved by a notified body, it will mean that the manufacturer has to contact the notified body to determine whether the product will comply with the new Directive and for a new type approval certificate to be issued.

One of the changes to the Directive is the revised and new Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs). The changes appear mainly in the areas of operating positions, seating, control systems and devices, stop functions, guards, noise, vibration, slips and trips, lightning and instructions.

Another change is the introduction of the period of validity of the type examination certificate. As well as a notified body being continually responsible for ensuring the validity of the product certification, a formal review will be required every five years. Following a successful review, and taking into account current state of the art, certification can be re-issued for a further five years.

The period of ten years for document retention, following issue of certification or cessation of manufacture of a particular product has also changed. This increases to 15 years, and it will now be necessary to retain the type examination certificates, the technical file and any other relevant documentation for this extended period.

The legislation that implements the new Directive in the UK “The Supply of Machinery Regulations 2008” is currently being drafted, with an expected implementation in 2008. Similar legislation will be introduced into other member states within the same period.

Replacing the current publication 'Comments on Directive 98/37/EC (1999 Edition)' will be web based guidance to assist in the interpretation of the new Machinery Directive. This is expected to be updated on a regular basis and introduced prior to the implementation date of 2010.

It is interesting to note that guidance on clauses 4 and 6 within Annex I of the Directive, those which relate to lifting equipment and lifting persons, has been drafted in the UK and has recently been circulated to the other Member States for approval. Within clause 4, there is a requirement which appears to require static and dynamic proof load tests on every single product produced. This is at variance with current practice on some types of lifting equipment (not MEWPs) and the guidance is seeking to clarify this point.

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