Machine and equipment safety

Working with machinery, appliances, tools and installations can cause dangers. Machinery may be inherently dangerous or become so due to age or wear and tear.

With machinery that has been modified or machinery that is entirely ‘homemade’ (constructed by the company/operator), the consequences for safety are sometimes not sufficiently known. Machine safety is therefore an important theme when acquiring new machinery, modifying existing machinery or building machinery yourself.

Also important are the positioning (space around it), maintenance, inspection and information/instruction regarding its use. European directives require you to take appropriate measures to prevent hazardous machine-related situations for employees.

The first step in determining the safety of machinery is to identify the directives that apply to the machinery/installation concerned. Subsequently, it can be determined what requirements are stipulated.

Thus it becomes clear what measures must be taken in order to remedy any shortcomings.

European directives are differentiated into Product Directives (relationship between manufacturer and user of the product) and Staff Directives (relationship between employer and employee); they are related to each other through their common subject: health and safety.

The performance of a risk assessment is applicable to both directives. For more on this topic, see our Risk Assessment information page.

Product Directives stipulate fundamental safety requirements, whereby the so-called burden of proof lies with the producer or manufacturer.

Examples of Product Directives are the Machinery Directive, the Directive on Electromagnetic Compatibility, the Low Voltage Directive, the Non-automatic Weighing Instruments Directive (NAWI) and the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED).

For every machine, appliance, tool and installation produced, the manufacturer must draw up a Declaration of Conformity (IIA declaration) or a Declaration of Incorporation (IIB declaration). With the aid of a CE label, it is made known that the safety requirements pursuant to the Product directives concerned have been satisfied.

Staff Directives regulate the safety of work equipment used in the workplace, and are thus addressed particularly to employers.

An example of a Staff Directive is the Work Equipment Directive.

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