The generally perceived wisdom is that equipment for own or in-house use does not require CE marking but must still comply with the essential health and safety and EMC protection requirements. In fact, the situation is more complex than this, although the practical implications remain straightforward.
The following notes reflect the legal and enforcement situation in the UK, but UK law is based in European directives so we believe a similar situation applies elsewhere in the EEA.
Frequently, test equipment needs to be made for a specific application, or production equipment is imported from outside the EU directly, either from another part of a multi-national operation or from a specialist equipment vendor. In these cases, the equipment is not being 'placed on the market' so the argument is that the CE marking directives do not apply.
In fact, it's important not to generalise the requirements of the various directives and their UK implementation. For example, while the UK's Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 contain an exclusion from the CE marking requirements for equipment which is built (or imported) for the manufacturer's own use, the same is not true of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992. Thus, machinery must be subjected to the full CE marking requirements, but the same is not true of electrical equipment.
The key difference is the presence of the phrase 'brought into service' within the scope of the directives. The LVD applies to equipment 'placed on the market' whereas the Machinery Directive applies to equipment 'placed on the market ' or 'brought into service'.
One of the problems in getting to grips with this is the basic misconception that CE marking is a uniform certification procedure which will add a lot of unnecessary expense and complication to the process of designing, building and commissioning in-house equipment. People tend to believe that it's not possible to CE mark equipment without expensive testing and certification by an external body, but this is not the case. The process is actually very flexible and scaleable to meet pretty much any set of circumstances.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
Notwithstanding any obligation to CE mark the equipment, employers in the UK have an obligation under PUWER and the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure that the equipment which is supplied for use by their employees complies with any applicable Essential Requirements. Regulation 10.1 of PUWER 1998 states:
“10. - (1) Every employer shall ensure that an item of work equipment has been designed and constructed in compliance with any essential requirements, that is to say requirements relating to its design or construction in any of the instruments listed in Schedule 1 (being instruments which give effect to Community directives concerning the safety of products).”
Schedule 1 of PUWER is a list of the CE marking directives.
Normally, an employer meets their obligations under PUWER by specifying CE marked equipment and using it according to the manufacturer's instructions, but if the equipment is not already CE marked by the supplier, or if it is being used for some purpose other than that for which the original manufacturer intended, the employer must take responsibility for compliance with the EHSR's for themselves. Also, in the absence of CE marking, PUWER sets out minimum safety requirements which must be adhered to by an employer, and these requirements are retrospective so that a equipment must meet certain minimum safety requirements no matter how old it is.
In practice, this means that, in order to comply with PUWER, people responsible for making or importing the equipment need to apply the same standards as they would if they were CE marking it. There might be some room for a reduction in the obligations for technical documentation and instructions etc., but in essence whether or not the CE mark is put on the equipment makes very little difference to the design measures which ought to be applied to ensure it is safe.
This being so, in most cases it makes sense to apply the CE mark since it's very little extra work to what is needed to comply with PUWER. Furthermore, for companies who (for instance) make their own test gear, the issue of a Declaration of Conformity (and hence the application of a CE mark to the product) is often a useful milestone in the hand-off procedure between the engineering and the production departments.
This position is further reinforced by paragraph 203 of the PUWER98 Approved Code of Practice (relating to Regulation 10):
“These (Article 100a) Directives also apply to equipment made and put into service in-house. It is a common feature of these Directives that compliance is claimed by the manufacturer affixing a mark — ‘CE Marking’ - to the Equipment.”
It's important to realise that the requirements of PUWER and the requirements of the CE marking directives come from different treaty clauses. The CE marking directives are based in article 100a of the Treaty of Rome and are the maximum which a member state government may require in order for products to be legitimately placed on their domestic market. Workplace safety requirements such as PUWER come from article 118a of the Treaty and Member States are free to augment them with additional requirements if they choose to. PUWER differs from the CE marking requirement in that CE marking covers only certain specific categories of apparatus and equipment whereas PUWER must be applied to all apparatus, equipment and installations used in the workplace. There are, therefore, certain categories of equipment (e.g. hand powered machines) which do not require CE marking but nonetheless are within the scope of PUWER.
To summarise, under PUWER it is always necessary to apply the applicable EHSRs of the CE marking directives but this does not mean that the CE marking must always be applied - whether or not CE marking is required for equipment manufactured for the manufacturer's own use is a matter for the applicable CE marking directives, not PUWER. In fact, PUWER may even require the application of EHSRs to products which are outside the scope of the CE marking directives.
If you need help with PUWER assessments or determining which EHSR's and standards apply to you in-house designed equipment, please contact us.