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Machinery Safety Directive – don’t bury your head in the sand!

Author : Suzanne Gill

The great and the good of UK industrial editors converged in London last week to attend a press conference held by safety and compliance consultants, Laidler Associates, to highlight the changes to the Machinery Safety Directive, officially designated 2006/42/EC, that comes into full force on 29 December.

Machinery Safety Directive – don’t bury your head in the sand!

Paul Laidler, of Laidler Associates, feels certain that many manufacturers are not fully aware of the implications of the new Directive, and believes that they are assuming it will not apply to them, when in fact it may. Because there is no transitional period for this directive, he feels that many will be caught out by it. He urged manufacturers and end users who work with or produce safety equipment to take a closer look at the directive to ensure that they understand the implications of the changes.

The directive can be downloaded free of charge by following the links on the Health and Safety Executive website

The Directive features a number of important changes, and now includes terms such lifting accessories and chains, ropes and webbing and an indicative list of safety components. New inclusions further expand the scope with devices such as construction site hoists and devices for lifting people with reduced mobility.

From the point of view of electrical and design engineers, however, the most significant change is that it no longer concentrates on just one item of equipment at a time. If a complex assembly, such as a production line, is created by interlinking a series of existing machines, the whole assembly is considered as a new machine that must itself comply with the requirements of the directive. This applies irrespective of the age of the machines that have been brought together.

Similarly, if modifications are carried out that alter the performance or function of the machine or complex assembly, for the purposes of the Directive, this is considered as creating a new machine, which must also comply. An important implication is that work on current projects should have been carried out in line with the requirements of the new directive if the project will be completed after 28th December, as it will not be possible to issue a final declaration under the old directive after this date.

Laidler Associates has produced a free, downloadable guide which includes useful information about the new machinery safety directive. Commenting on the guide, Paul said: "It is written to benefit both machine builders and end users. Both sides need a good understanding of the legislation and processes surrounding machinery safety and this guide will help bridge the gap in understanding between the two."

The guide is available for download now from the company’s web site:

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