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The concepts ‘standards’ and ‘directives’ appear in practice to cause quite some confusion. A directive is a ‘law’ that obliges the member states to incorporate it into their national legislation. A ‘standard’ does not have legal status, but a voluntary character. Standards are drawn up in order to (be able to) give more detailed interpretation to health and safety requirements stipulated in the directives. Certain (harmonised) European standards give the manufacturer the so-called ‘presumption of conformity’ with the stipulations of the directive.

Harmonised standards

In a number of cases, the EU instructs the national standardisation institutions (in the Netherlands, the NEN) to create a standard that corresponds to a particular European directive. These may be product standards (type C standards), but also standards with a scope that is broader than a single product (type A or B standards). When these EN (European Norm) standards have been established, they are published in the journal of the European Union. From that moment on, they are harmonised standards.

The harmonised European standards are divided into three types, namely: A, B and C.Type A standards are fundamental safety standards, which deal with basic concepts, design principles and general aspects.Type B standards deal with a specific safety aspect or a specific safety resource.Type C standards deal with specific categories of machinery by combining the A and B standards applicable to the machinery with the requirements that are typical of the category.

Example of type A standards:

EN-ISO 12100:2010 nl
Safety of machinery – General design principles – Risk assessment and risk reduction

Examples of type B standards:

EN-ISO 13857:2008 nl
Safe distances for the prevention of upper and lower limbs reaching dangerous zones

EN 349:1994+A1:2008 en
Minimum distances for the prevention of parts of the human body becoming trapped

EN 953:1998 en
Guards – general requirements for the design and the construction of fixed and movable guards

EN 1088:1996+A2:2008 en
Blocking devices linked to guards – basic principles for design and choice

EN-ISO 13850:2006 nl
Emergency stop – design principles

EN-IEC 60204-1:2006 nl
Safety of machinery – Electrical equipment of machinery – Part 1: General requirements

Examples of type C standards:

EN 415-4 en
Safety of packaging machinery – Part 4: Palletisers and depalletisers.

EN-ISO 23125:2010/A1:2012 en
Safety of machine tools – Lathes

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