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Summary

Directive 2006/42/EC applies to machinery, lifting accessories such as slings and chains, and safety components. A machine is defined as “an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves...”.

There are exclusions such as military equipment, machines which are already covered by other, more specific, directives and some equipment which falls within the scope of the Low Voltage Directive. The Regulations are enforced in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive for machinery used in the workplace, and the Trading Standards Service for machinery used at home. Penalties for non-compliant machinery can be severe.

The vast majority of machinery may be self-certified by the manufacturer who must meet the administrative and essential health and safety requirements of the Directive. The essential health and safety requirements demand that machinery suppliers identify the hazards their equipment contain and assess the risks these hazards present to users.

Any risks identified must be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. Detailed requirements are laid out in a series of safety standards. The administrative provisions of the Directive require manufacturers to produce a Technical File, sign a Declaration of Conformity and label the product with certain markings.

Annex IV contains a list of about 25 types of machine which are subject to special procedures. These must either be made fully in accordance with the provision of the standard, or be subjected to type examination by a Notified Body.

Manufacturers of partly completed machines intended to be incorporated into another machine or which cannot function unless built into a production line must sign a 'Declaration of Incorporation'. This basically states that the machinery is incomplete and must be made to fully conform with the requirements of the Directive before it is brought into service.

Purpose

The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC (formerly 98/37/EC) is one of a series of measures introduced under Article 100a of the Treaty of Rome. Article 100a directives all have the primary objective of creating a single European market in goods and services with the objective of providing producers and consumers with the benefits of economies of scale that this offers.

The effect of the Directive has been to introduce identical requirements for machinery safety in every country within the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Directive provides for a widely applicable framework for safety assessment and even when it is not strictly applicable, it can provide a good basis for risk assessment and documentation in order to demonstrate due diligence on the part of a manufacturer or supplier.

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