Buying new machinery
Buying machinery can be one of the biggest investments you make, and the profitability of the business can depend on it doing the right job well, safely, and without affecting people's health.
A summary of the law on new machinery
Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to ensure that the machinery they provide complies with legal requirements. This means that, when this equipment is used correctly and safely, the risk of accidents and ill health occurring is reduced.
The law requires that machinery:
- is safe when supplied;
- comes with a Declaration of Conformity
- user instructions in English; and
- is UKCA marked, or
- is CE marked
From 1st January 2025, new machinery with only a CE mark will no longer be acceptable in Great Britain. In practice, most new machinery is likely to have both a UKCA, and CE mark.
Manufacturers have to meet these requirements when machinery is first placed on the European market. Intermediate suppliers must also supply safe machinery.
When buying new equipment (including machinery), users are also required to check it complies with all relevant supply laws. This means checking it is UKCA/CE marked; supplied with a Declaration of Conformity and user instructions in English; and free from any obvious defect (such as missing or damaged guards).
Users of machinery also have legal duties to:
- Select and provide suitable work equipment;
- Ensure that it is used correctly; and
- Keep it maintained in a safe condition
What you have to do in practice
Before you buy it, think about:
- where and how it will be used;
- what tasks it will be used for;
- who will use it (skilled employees, trainees etc);
- what risks to health and safety might result from its use; and
- how well health and safety risks are controlled by different manufacturers eg by comparing data on things such as noise or vibration levels.
This can help you decide which machine may be suitable, particularly when buying a standard machine 'off the shelf'. If you are buying a more complex or custom-built machine, you should discuss your requirements with potential suppliers, who can advise you on the options available.
When buying new machinery, check:
- it is 'UKCA' or 'CE' marked (CE marked only, only allowed in GB until 31st December 2024) and supplied with a Declaration of Conformity. This is a legal requirement;
- it has a set of instructions in English, stating how the machine should be used and maintained.
- it is suitable for the intended use;
- for self-propelled machines, check there is good visibility for the driver
- measures are provided to help safe reversing, eg by specifying reversing cameras, audible reversing warning devices, better mirrors, etc;
- tractors and other self-propelled machines are fitted with suitable roll over protective structures (ROPS) and falling object protective structures (FOPS);
- the maximum operating height of machines such as combines, telescopic handlers, sprayers and forage harvesters so they will have sufficient clearance to pass safely under overhead power lines (OHPLs)
- likely dust or fume emissions
- for ease of maintenance. A machine which is designed to be easily and safely maintained will save you time, money and reduce risks;
- what steps the manufacturer has taken to make it safe for you to clear blockages. Machines prone to blockages, such as balers, should be designed to minimise them occurring and have a safe way of clearing them, eg a pick-up drive reversing mechanism;
- instructions are provided as well as a workshop manual if you intend to service the machine yourself. Make sure your operators read these instructions;
- information on noise and vibration levels is included in the operator's manual. You may need to provide extra control measures yourself if the levels exceed the legal requirements.
See guidance INDG271 'Buying new machinery' for additional information and some useful checklists that can be used when talking to suppliers.