CE is no guarantee
23 February 2010
There’s a widespread belief among machine users that when they buy a new machine, all they need to do to meet their obligations under PUWER is to make sure that it bears the CE marking, But, it’s not that simple, says Paul Laidler of UK based Laidler Associates.
On December 29, 2009, a new Machinery Directive, 2006/42/EC, came into force. All machinery supplied in the EU from this date must comply with the new directive
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) have been around since 1998, so those who provide work equipment are used to the idea that they are responsible for its safety. What many are less clear about, however, is exactly what they need to do to meet that responsibility.
The answer is made clear in leaflet INDG271 “Buying new machinery – a short guide to the law…”, which is available as a free download from the Health and Safety Executive website. This leaflet asks the question, “Is CE marking a guarantee of safety?”. The answer is unequivocal. “No, the manufacturer is claiming that the machinery complies with the law. You still need to check that the machine is safe before it is used.” It also says, “Never assume that machinery is safe just because it has the CE marking.” Note that the bold type is exactly as it appears in the original document.
What, therefore, do machine buyers need to do to ensure that they are complying with the requirements of PUWER? The INDG271 leaflet provides useful pointers, but it is also essential to refer to the so-called PUWER ACOP – the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and guidance. This document includes not only the regulations themselves, but also information about how they should be applied. Once again, it’s available as a free download from the HSE, and a link is available on the Laidler Associates website.
Of particular interest is PUWER regulation 6, which covers inspection, and regulation 10, which deals with conformity with EU requirements. Regulation 6 requires that equipment should be inspected to ensure that it has been installed correctly and is safe to operate, after installation and before being put into service, and also after assembly at a new site or in a new location.
Now let’s move on to PUWER regulation 10, which states that, “Every employer shall ensure that an item of work equipment conforms at all times with essential EU requirements.” While a Declaration of Conformity is not, as we’ve already seen, sufficient to completely confirm the safety of the machine, it is still necessary and the INDG271 leaflet states that purchaser of new machinery must always request a copy.
That may seem straightforward, but on December 29, 2009, a new Machinery Directive, 2006/42/EC, came into force. All machinery supplied in the EU from this date must comply with the new directive, and it introduces many changes, not least to the Declaration of Conformity.
Machine purchasers need to make sure, therefore, not only that they are supplied with a Declaration of Conformity, but also that the declaration complies with the requirements of the latest version of the Machinery Directive.
As we have seen, the obligations of machine users in relation to new machines go far beyond simply checking that the equipment has a CE marking. And, as we have also seen, meeting these obligations is not necessarily straightforward, especially when complications such as the recent introduction of a new Machinery Directive are taken into account.
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