The aim of the Machinery Directive is to improve safety when using machines, removing technical obstacles to trade and creating similar regulations within the EES area. The 98/37/EC directive came into force on 1st January 1995 and applies to machines manufactured after this date. Machines manufactured before 1995 must meet the minimum requirements. Put simply, the minimum requirements do not make the same demands on the technical documentation as the Machinery Directive, but require the machine to be safe for the user.
In order for a machine to be CE marked, it is necessary for the machine to meet the basic requirements for health and safety. Documentation that includes an assurance of conformity and a documented risk analysis is also required. Most machines are usually also affected by other directives that must be complied with, usually the Low Voltage and EMC Directive. CE marking only applies to safety and may not be used as an expression of quality or reliability.
What, then, is a machine according to the Machinery Directive?
An assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, with the appropriate actuators, control and power circuits, etc., joined together for a specific application, in particular for the processing, treatment, moving or packaging of a material.
An assembly of machines which, in order to achieve the same end, are arranged and controlled so that they function as an integral whole.
Interchangeable equipment modifying the function of a machine, which is placed on the market for the purpose of being assembled with a machine or a series of different machines or with a tractor by the operator himself in so far as this equipment is not a spare part or a tool.
Article 1.2A of the Machinery Directive
This means that the Machinery Directive applies to everything from a small hand-held machine to complex machinery lines. Some machines are outside the scope of the Machinery Directive, e.g. some types of lifts and medical equipment (specified in article 1.3 of the Directive).
From 29 December 2009, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is valid.
Some of the changes in brief include:
- Machines defined as “non-independent machine” (2B machine) are now defined as “partly completed machinery”. The requirements for these machinery types have also been raised, e.g. a documented risk analysis must be carried out. - In appendix I, all examples of “should” have disappeared and the technical requirements have been expanded and clarified to a certain extent, e.g. ergonomic and control system requirements have been made more precise. - Altered certification procedure for Appendix IV machinery.