The European Machinery Directive

A new European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC published on 9 June 2006 and came into force on 30 June 2006.

Substantial amendments to the current machinery directive 98/37/EC have been made affecting those involved with the design, manufacture or supply of machinery.

All Member States of the European Union have to amend their national legislation by 29 June 2008.

Manufacturers and suppliers of machinery will need to assess the implications of the new provisions on their products and take action as necessary.

The European Machinery Directive was introduced in the early 1990s to enable free trade and consistent standards of safety across member states and European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries.

A wide range of standards have been developed to assist and enable compliance with some or all of the essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs) of the directive.

These standards - commonly referred to as ‘harmonized standards’ - can provide manufacturers with a straightforward route to conformity with relevant EHSRs. This simple framework enables manufacturers to comply with their legislative duties under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 that have implemented the Machinery Directive into UK law.

In addition, the safe use of work equipment is covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) that bring into effect the non-lifting aspects of the Amending Directive to the Use of Work Equipment Directive (AUWED).

The primary objective of PUWER 98 is to ensure that work equipment should not result in health and safety risks, regardless of its age, condition or origin. Although there is no link between 'harmonized standards' and the requirements of either AUWED or PUWER 98, it is necessary for users of machinery to establish that it is safe for use in their workplace; this can involve demonstrating that relevant EHSRs of the Machinery Directive (and any other relevant Directives) have been fulfilled by, for example, ensuring that machinery has been designed in accordance with ‘harmonized standards’.

Further information on PUWER 98 is given in the Health and Safety Executive’s publication L22 Safe use of work equipment - Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 - Approved Code of Practice and Guidance.

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