These are notes only - there is no specific directive for off-road machinery.
The law concerned with vehicles and their use off-road is fraught with complications and is poorly understood. The following notes are intended to help clarify the situation for persons involved in the importing or manufacture of vehicles for on and off-road use.
These notes apply primarily to the situation in the UK, and while the Machinery Directive applies consistently throughout the European Union, the same is not true of the rules which apply to vehicles used on the road. Although there are procedures which allow vehicles to be approved for on-road use in all countries in Europe, there are also differences in the legislation which mean that vehicles approved for use in one EU country may not automatically be legal for the same use in another country.
Public highway vs. off-road
The definition of “public highway” is an important factor. Essentially, for the purposes of this discussion, the public highway is any area to which the public may have access. This might include places such as municipal parks and supermarket car parks as well as the “normal” highway. In particular, it is important to realise that a public highway does not have to have a tarmac surface - “green lanes” with a public right of vehicular access, where off-road driving enthusiasts may go, are also public highways and so the vehicles which use them must comply with C+U (see below) as well as any applicable tax and insurance requirements of the Road Traffic Act. The rules apparently also apply to land designated for open access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. Only private land which is closed to public access is truly off-road in the sense that vehicles which do not comply with C+U may be used there.
Road vehicle Construction and Use Regulations
All vehicles used on the public highway in the UK must comply with the Construction and Use Regulations (C+U). These Regulations establish rules for the safety of the vehicle, both for the vehicle's occupants and for other road users. C+U includes requirements for braking, lights, seatbelts and many other safety features. The rules are different for different types and uses of vehicle (e.g. there is no need for seatbelts on motorcycles and the requirements for agricultural tractors are different to those for passenger carrying vehicles) but nonetheless the C+U regs will always apply, to a greater or lesser extent, to any vehicle used on the road. In addition, there are requirements for taxing and insuring most vehicles which will apply (but these are outside the scope of this discussion).
In the first instance, compliance with C+U is the responsibility of the driver of the vehicle, but in the vast majority of cases concerning new vehicles, the vehicle manufacturer actually deals with this on behalf of the driver by submitting the vehicle for European Whole Vehicle Type Approval. Once the vehicle has the appropriate type approval, all the driver has to do is to submit the vehicle for regular MOT check-ups to ensure it remains safe.
Type Approvals and the IVA
Type Approval (also known as homologation) is a harmonised process. This means that the rules are the same in all EU states and if the vehicle type is approved in one state, all other EU states will recognise the approval and will not demand that a separate approval be obtained before the vehicle can be sold or used in their territory. This is because it is a procedure designed for use by volume manufacturers who want to make a single model of vehicle for sale in multiple countries.
Type Approval is also expensive, and it involves an assessment of manufacturing capability (quality control) so it's not a procedure which can be followed by an individual who has manufactured a special vehicle (or modified a homologated vehicle), or who has imported a single vehicle from outside the area where the Type Approval applies (e.g. from the US into the UK).
For these circumstances there is a special procedure, called the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) which is similar to the MOT test but assesses the design of the vehicle as well as its condition. Individual Vehicle Approval only allows use in the UK and must be obtained before the vehicle can be taxed and used on the road.
There is also a half-way house between European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and IVA called “National Small Series Type Approval”. It is open to low-volume (between 75 and 500 vehicles per year, depending on the type) manufacturers and their authorised representatives to get their cars approved for UK road use only without having to get each car inspected individually and without the administrative burden of European Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
CE marking off-road machinery
Combustion engine and electrically powered vehicles also meet the definition of “machinery” laid out in the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. However, this directive has a number of specific exclusions:
1. “means of transport” and goes on to clarify this with the words: “i.e. vehicles and their trailers intended solely for transporting passengers by air or on road, rail or water networks, as well as means of transport in so far as such means are designed for transporting goods by air, on public road or rail networks or on water. Vehicles used in the mineral extraction industry shall not be excluded”.
It is clear from this that normal road-going vehicles are excluded from the Machinery Directive and do not need to be CE marked (although only in so far as the road-going equipment is concerned (machinery mounted on the back of a lorry will need to be CE marked, but this is a separate topic).
2. “Machinery for medical use in direct contact with patients” is excluded from the scope of the Machinery Directive in article 3.
3. “Machinery covered by specific Community Directives” Article 1 paragraph 4 of the Machinery Directive states: “Where, for machinery or safety components, the risks referred to in this Directive are wholly or partly covered by specific Community Directives, this Directive shall not apply, or shall cease to apply, in the case of such machinery or safety components and of such risks on the implementation of these specific Directives”.
Therefore, toys for which all risks are covered by the Toy Safety Directive and medical devices for which all risks are covered by the Medical Devices Directive are excluded from the Machinery Directive. Examples are electrically powered toy vehicles, toy scooters and bikes, powered wheelchairs and disabled scooters.
4. Machinery for police and military use.
This makes sense since such vehicles are already the subject of other, more specific legislation (C+U in the UK, and their equivalents in other countries, Medical Devices Directive, Toy Safety Directive, police and military standards.) It is difficult to think of a type of vehicle that is excluded from the Machinery Directive but not covered by other more specific legislation.
However, any vehicle which does not fit the definition of these exclusions must be within the scope of the Machinery Directive and will need to be CE marked.
For manufacturers and importers of off-road vehicles (e.g. powered scooters, dirt bikes, quad bikes, etc) this represents an opportunity. So long as such vehicles are sold as being exclusively for off-road use (and note carefully the above comment about what constitutes “off-road”) then they may be sold without having undergone any Type Approval or IVA procedure. Instead, they must be CE marked. This is a self-certification process.
The proper procedure for CE marking machinery is covered elsewhere, but it may be summarised as demonstrating compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the Machinery Directive. Thus, in order for an off-road vehicle to be legitimately CE marked, it must have a Technical File which shows how the EHSRs have been complied with, and explains the application of the harmonised standards used.
It must be stressed that the rules for CE marking machinery and those which apply to road vehicles under C+U are completely independent of one another. Vehicles which comply with C+U will not necessarily comply with the Machinery Directive, and vice-versa. CE marking is not a substitute for Type Approval or IVA, and a CE marked vehicle cannot be used legally on the road unless it also complies with C+U. Nevertheless, some requirements (e.g. a horn and adequate brakes) are a feature of both sets of requirements and so there is no legal means by which vehicles can be sold without these.
CE marking “normal” off-road machines used in industrial and agricultural environments, such as earth moving equipment, forklifts etc. is relatively straightforward since there are harmonised standards which will help the manufacturer interpret the EHSRs. There are also harmonised standards for dirt bikes and quad bikes. However, for recreational vehicles such as scooters, go-karts, hoverboards and 'Segway' type vehicles there are no harmonised standards and so what constitutes compliance with the EHSRs is a lot harder to determine.
Invalid Carriages and Mobility Scooters
If the vehicle is designed as an aid for disabled persons, then it fits into a special category under C+U because there are rules which permit disabled persons to use an invalid carriage on the public highway and which disapply most of the C+U rules (The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations). However, these regulations only apply to disabled persons, so an invalid carriage or a powered wheelchair cannot be used on the public highway by an able bodied person unless it complies with all of the C+U requirements which would apply to, for instance, a motor cycle.
UK regulations classify mobility vehicles into three categories:
Class 1 - manual wheelchairs
Class 2 - Powered wheelchairs and and mobility scooters, intended for footpath or pavement use only with a maximum speed limit of 4 mph
Class 3 - powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters, for use on the road, with a maximum speed limit of 8 mph but with the facility to travel at 4 mph on a footpath or pavement.
If a scooter does not fall into one of these three categories then it must be treated as a 'normal' road vehicle.
All invalid carriages, wheelchairs and disabled scooters (including those in the classes listed above) are within the scope of the Medical Devices Directive and so they must be CE marked accordingly. This Directive applies irrespective of whether the carriage is designed for use on the road or not. Machinery for medical use in direct contact with patients is excluded from the scope of the Machinery Directive as described above.
Electrically assisted bicycles
Special rules (the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations) also apply to electrically assisted bicycles and again these disapply some aspects of C+U. However, for the exclusions to be valid the bicycle must have functional pedals and be limited in top speed, among other requirements. Other requirements apply for vehicles fitted with pedals and a motor that can provide power assistance at any time without the rider pedalling, or if the motor is not speed limited.
The other CE marking directive which may be relevant is the Toy Safety Directive. This applies to items used in play by children under the age of 14. Certain non-powered scooters are certainly within the scope of this, but petrol powered scooters are specifically excluded from the Toy Safety Directive (as are bicycles intended for use on the public highway). Electrically powered scooters designed for use by children would have to be CE marked as toys but would be excluded from the scope of the Machinery Directive as described above.
The All Terrain Motor Vehicles (Safety) Regulations 1989
These Regulations prohibit the sale of three wheeled vehicles designed for off-road leisure use and also require the fitting of speed limiters to four wheeled vehicles (“quad bikes”), where these are sold for use by persons under the age of 16. Two-wheeled vehicles are within the scope of these regulations but there are no requirements given for them.
There is an apparent conflict between these regulations and the free-market requirements of the Machinery Directive. To date, the relevant Government department has been unable to provide any meaningful information to help us resolve this conflict.
Adults' bicycles are excluded from the Machinery Directive because they are powered solely by “directly applied manual effort”. There is no other CE marking directive which applies to them and, therefore, they are not required to carry the CE mark.
In the UK, bicycles are required to comply with The Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010. These require the cycle to comply with BS 6102 or an international safety standard (e.g. EN 14764, EN 14766, EN 14781). They also require that the bicycle be supplied with a bell and with functional brakes, among other requirements.
Bicycles intended for use by children under the age of 14 may be within the scope of the Toy Safety Directive in which case they will need to be CE marked.
Two and three-wheeled vehicles
Two and three wheeled vehicles are the subject of a large number of European directives and Regulations but these essentially mimic the legal structure for cars and trucks with options for EC Type Approval for large volume manufacturers and national approvals for small volumes.
Pretty well all road vehicles are subject to legislation which limits the engine exhaust emissions. Confirmation of compliance with these requirements is dealt with as part of the Type Approval or SVA procedure. For engine driven, off-road machinery, the Non Road Mobile Machinery Engine Exhaust Emissions Directive must be applied. This contains requirements for all spark ignition engine and most compression ignition engine powered machines. However engines of recreational vehicles are excluded.