The first and most important reason is moral: each employee is entitled to a safe and secure working environment. The next reason is financial, as workplace accidents involve huge costs due to sick leave, compensation and production downtime. The final reason is to fulfil legal requirements: where we were previously governed by national regulations, but today are governed by different EU directives.
Axelent AB and Axelent Safety are specialists within these fields and offer complete solutions from risk analysis to delivery and assembly of machine guard. Axelent manu-factures and sells mesh wall systems for machine constructors, warehouse fitters and construction contractors. Axelent Safety offers complete solutions within machine safety, from design to safe and approved machinery, including advice and training.
One of the EU’s aims from the start has been to create a free internal market that covers all the member countries. At a meeting in Milan in 1985, the EU Council of Ministers decided that the free internal market (the Single European Market) would start on 1 January 1993. They also drew up guidelines for how this goal would be achieved. The single European market embraces free movement of goods, services, persons and capital.
The measures decided upon were compiled in a document, the White Paper. This defined three different obstacles to trade within the EU countries that prevent the single market:
- Physical obstacles (border controls)
- Technical obstacles (national regulations)
- Fiscal obstacles (taxes)
The EU started to deal with the technical obstacles to trade resulting from different national standards, testing and certification agreements and national regulations in the form of laws and ordinances at an early stage by preparing common directives. Initially, EU directives were very detailed, which made work extremely slow.
As mentioned previously, the traditional harmonisation method involved directives containing a number of technical details. The work had poor results due to the technical details becoming obsolete very quickly, offering a false picture of technical development. In the White Paper, the EU Council of Ministers presented a new method, “The New Approach”, in order to streamline directive work. This method will initially be applied when harmonising safety requirements.
The New Approach is based on four basic principles:
- the content of the directives is limited to basic safety requirements
- the necessary technical specifications are presented in standards
- application of standards is voluntary
- products manufactured according to a harmonised standard are required to meet the basic safety requirements laid out in the directive
The New Approach involves legal and technical aspects being kept separate. The targets established in the directives (the legal aspect) are interpreted in harmonised standards. When a new directive is published, the member states are forced to introduce the directive into their own legislation within the timeframe stated in the directive in question.
In December 1989, the EU Council of Ministers adopted “The Global Approach”. The Global Approach provides an overall view of the field of testing, certification and inspection, both voluntary and obligatory, and constitutes a further development of “The New Approach”. This overall view should be seen against the background of the EU’s attempts to reduce the number of compulsory and detailed rules, in favour of increased options in the field.
Obligatory marking (CE marking) initially takes place through the manufacturer “self-declaring” that the product meets the requirements of the directives and standards that apply to the product in question. In certain situations, e.g. when the manufacturer has a so-called “dangerous machine” according to appendix IV of the Machinery Directive, the manufacturer is obliged to turn to a Notified Body in order to get an EC-type inspection certificate.
There are currently 29 directives in accordance with “The New Approach”. Of these, 21 are product directives that require CE marking, e.g. the Machinery, LVD, EMC, ATEX, PPE and the Toys Directive.
For more information, see http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newapproach/index_en.htm
Market checks were introduced to detect and potentially ban products that do not meet safety standards. Depending on the product type, various authorities are responsible for market checks, e.g. the Swedish Work Environment Authority for machines.