Light in the (Machinery Directive standards) jungle

01 April 2006

The CE-mark on a machine means that all relevant E.U. guidelines for plant and machinery safety have been met. Manufacturers take the CE-mark very seriously because of their liability under civil, product, and competition laws.

Even machinery that is designed for ‘in-house’ use is affected by the Machinery Directive. In the event that plant or systems are assembled from machine components and then sold within the E.U., the person selling the plant or system would then be held responsible for the product.

For example, in the U.K., the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974’ states:

It shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work…to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed as to be safe and without risks to health when properly used.

Three questions are important for manufacturers with regards to the CE-mark:

....How should a hazard analysis be carried out and documented?

....Which procedure is defined by the Machinery Directive?

....How may the CE mark costs be reduced?

To assist machine builders with efficient conformity appraisal as defined by the Machine Directive, in 1995 IBF ( developed the ‘Safexpert’ software package.

The software begins its tasks by determining whether the product falls within the scope of the Directive or not. To do this, it asks a series of questions.

Machine designers who are unsure about a particular question are directed to the appropriate passage within the Directive for further clarification.

The Machine Directive says that the manufacturer ‘is under an obligation to assess the hazards in order to identify all of those which apply to his machine; he must then design and construct it taking in to account of his assessment.’

The most economical approach is for the machine’s design engineer to do the hazard analysis. By doing this early in the design process, potential dangers may be engineered out of the product through alternative processes or components. An enforced technical safety upgrade, once a machine has been built, may prove very expensive and might well delay delivery schedules.

The software identifies the hazards according to EN 1050 (ISO 14121). The specific cross references to relevant standards and guidelines speed up access to key sections, thus saving the design engineer from time consuming searches. An additional bonus is that all the standards and guidelines remain within
the computer rather than on the engineer’s desk.

Upon completion of the conformity appraisal, the following documentation is provided:

....The hazard analysis—one of the most important documents for the ‘Technical Documentation’ and for
reaching safety objectives;

....‘Technical Documentation’ and ‘Instruction Handbook’ checklists; and

....Conformity—or manufacturer’s declaration.

Seeking specific standards is very important for designers and planners. It is not always easy in the current
‘standards jungle.’ Search, filter, and sort functions enable quick access to standards titles. It is possible to store important design data for each standard listed, so the designer doesn’t have to browse through the standards texts. It is also possible to ‘tailor’ the standards register to match an individual machine designer’s requirements.

Online Help
The complete Machine Directive texts are available as PDF documents in Safexpert. The standards package ‘Safety of Machinery’ compiled in co-operation with the Austrian Standards Institute has now been made available. In addition to the most important standards EN ISO 12100, EN 1050, EN 349, EN 294, EN 954- 1, there are a further 60 standards available in this package. It is possible, at the click of a button, to see where in a standard or guideline a particular reference occurs.

Currently there are several standards undergoing review in the E.U. It is likely that from month to month, the
standards situation for machinery and control systems will change. Directive conformity may only be achieved when current standards are applied. The use of outdated standards can therefore be very critical. To avoid such situations occurring, an Internet Update Service is currently being developed to automatically update all the standards within Safexpert.

Many companies from around the world now rely on Safexpert for their CE marking activities. In 2005 Safexpert received certification from TÜV Rhineland as being suitable for all CEmarking processes in compliance with the Machinery Directive 98/37/EC. IBF will present the latest version of Safexpert at Hannover Fair; look for them in the SafetyBUS p Club stand in Hall 9, D35.

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