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British, European and International Standards

Standards are not legal requirements. However, they are a useful way of showing that you have met your legal obligations during the design and manufacture of machinery. 

Machinery manufactured in conformity with a transposed harmonised standard will be presumed to comply with the essential requirements covered by that standard. You should always check that the scope and EHSRs covered by the standard match those you have identified through your risk assessment of the machine.

If there are no transposed harmonised standards, manufacturers may work to any existing national standard or code of practice but this may not automatically mean you have complied with the law. Working to standards is one way a manufacturer can meet his legal obligations but this method is not compulsory. There may be other ways of meeting the compulsory legal requirements that are not shown in standards such as patented or novel designs.

Harmonised European standards

The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) is working to produce European standards at three levels (A, B and C) in support of the EC Machinery Directive:

  1. the ‘A’ level standard comprises general principles for the design of machinery. There are only two such standards:
    • BS EN ISO 12100 parts 1 and 2 – Safety of machinery. Basic concepts and principles for design.
    • BS EN ISO 14121-1 – Safety of machinery. Risk assessment. Principles
    Both of these should be regarded as essential reading for anyone seeking to design or manufacture a safe machine;
  2. the ‘B’ level standard covers specific safety devices and ergonomic aspects such as reach distances; and
  3. the ‘C’ level standard deals with specific classes of machinery by calling up the appropriate standards from the first two levels and addressing requirements specific to the class.

There are a number of harmonised ‘C’ standards developed specifically for agricultural machines and there is one that will apply to most machines – BS EN 4254-1 – Agricultural machinery safety – General requirements.

Find out more

2013-01-24