BIS, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (previously known as BERR and the DTI), has published guidance notes to help machine builders prepare for The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (S.I.2008/1597), which is the UK legislation enacting the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Summing up the new legislation and how it compares with the previous legislation, the Guidance notes on the UK Regulations (September 2009) state: "The same basic principles continue to apply but some of the underlying detail has changed." Of course, these 'detail' changes are, nevertheless, important and need to be understood and acted upon appropriately.
The new guidance can be downloaded as a 423KB PDF from the BIS website and it will prove helpful for UK-based machine builders and, most probably, companies in other countries that are designing and building machinery to comply with the new Machinery Directive, whether or not it is destined for the UK market. Bear in mind also that the European Commission is scheduled to publish comprehensive guidance on the entire text of the revised Machinery Directive in early December 2009.
In many ways the BIS guidance summarises and puts into 'plain English' the contents of the Machinery Directive, but there are also some helpful statements that make matters much clearer than is the case in the text of the Machinery Directive. For example, the guidance states that the new Regulations do not apply to machinery or safety components that are in the supply chain prior to 29 December 2009 but unused.
When first looking at the new Machinery Directive people might be confused as to which of the conformity procedures are applicable to the machine or partly completed machine they are building. To aid the decision-making process, the BIS guide contains a clear, colour-coded diagram that shows the product categories, documentation, procedures and declaration/marking stages.
As well as the material based on the contents of the new Machinery Directive, the guidance also includes detailed information about enforcement. In Great Britain the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing the Regulations in relation to machinery and safety components for use at work, while local authority Trading Standards Officers will enforce the Regulations in relation to machinery and safety components for private use. In Northern Ireland the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture are responsible for enforcing the Regulations in relation to machinery and safety components for use at work, while district councils enforce the Regulations in relation to private use. Furthermore, the guidance outlines the penalties for breaching the Regulations, with the most stringent penalties being an unlimited fine and/or two years' imprisonment.
Aiming more at machinery users than suppliers, the guidance reminds readers that the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) will continue to apply alongside The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.
At the end of the guidance is a useful Annex containing sources of references.
Copies of Machinery - Guidance notes on the UK Regulations can be downloaded free of charge from the BIS website (423KB PDF).