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Refurbished and modified machinery

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Some machinery provided for use at work is refurbished or modified, sometimes without change of ownership, but also often prior to re-supply as second-hand equipment. The extent of the changes made to the original machinery, together with its provenance, can result in new legal obligations on the owner, user or person undertaking such work. In some cases where machinery has been so transformed or substantially rebuilt it may have to be considered as new machinery and so subject to the conformity assessment and CE marking requirements of the Machinery Directive even if originally compliant and CE marked when first placed on the market. However, refurbishment, even if very substantial, where parts are replaced with new similar versions (like for like etc) do not require re-CE marking.

What you must do?

Where changes are made to the design, function or safety of machinery (or an assembly of machines), you must assess the extent of the changes made or to be made. If they are very substantial (e.g. significant new hazards and risks are introduced or new methods of control of the machine replace those previously provided, such as computer control of a previous manual machine) it may amount to being considered a "new" machine (or new assembly), for which you must undertake conformity assessment and meet all relevant requirements of any relevant European product supply Directives, including the Machinery Directive. Even where they are not you must still undertake the work competently to ensure the machinery remains safe for use, and if re-supplying it, that you meet your obligations as a supplier of equipment for use at work (section 6 of the HSW Act).

What you should know?

Refurbished and modified machinery must be safe when used, fully meeting the requirements of PUWER and any other requirements which may also apply to the product (eg LOLER, Electricity at Work Regulations, the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations, Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations, etc). This requirement will apply to those undertaking the work, whether the machine owner, user or contractors working for the owner or user. Also if the machine is to be sold / moved on then the seller and all in the supply chain (ie distributors, suppliers, importers or the original manufacturer) must meet the requirements of either section 6 of the HSW Act or if it requires new CE marking, the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations (which implements the Machinery Directive).

Modified machinery which is considered as "new" machinery

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (Machinery Directive) apply where the modified machinery is considered "new" to the EEA market. For example, the fitting of CNC (computer) control to a previously manually operated machine substantially alters the way the original machine is operated and controlled. Consequently such a modification introduces significant new health and safety risks (eg automatic programmed operation). This will require full and proper assessment before modifications to the design and construction of the machine are made to ensure they are safe and hence prior to it being placed on the market or put into service. In this case, where very substantial modifications / additions have been made full compliance with the Machinery Directive is required for the resultant product (conformity assessment, drawing up of a technical file, issuing a Declaration of Conformity and CE marking). This is because in effect a new machine has been created even though the original manually operated machine may have previously been in use in an EEA country. Where the machine is large and complex the part modified may not affect other parts of the machine. In this case, only the parts and systems modified, or which could have been affected, need to be reassessed. The other parts not affected do not need a new conformity assessment, but the assessment of what is not affected should be included in the technical file.

Machinery refurbishment with a different safety package

The change to a substantially different safety strategy may also require re-assessment and compliance with the Machinery Directive, even if the original machine was not CE marked because it pre-dated the Directive. For example, the substitution of fixed fencing and interlocked doors with photoelectric or laser scanning safety systems requiring additional associated logic control units will probably require re-compliance with the Machinery Directive before the machinery is placed back on the market or put back into service.

Modifications related to assemblies of machines

The same may apply where an existing assembly of machines is modified (assemblies of machines are within scope of the Machinery Directive see Article 2(a) fourth indent of the Directive). Where the modification, which might include the addition / substitution of a new or second-hand machine, impacts substantially on the operation or safety of the whole assembly of machines an assessment of the safety of the changes as they affect the machine assembly will be required. The resultant assembly may need to re-comply with the provisions of the Machinery Directive (and so be re-CE marked), but individual machines in the assembly not affected by the changes will not need any reassessment. Further guidance on assemblies of machinery comprising new and existing machinery is given at paragraph 39 of the European Commission Guide to the Machinery Directive.

Machinery modified before it is first put into service

In some cases, new machinery is sold to an importer or a distributor who then modifies the machinery at the request of a customer before the machinery is put into service for the first time. If that modification is substantial (eg change of function and / or increased performance of the machinery), and these changes are not foreseen or agreed by the manufacturer, the original manufacturer's CE marking becomes invalid and has to be renewed. The modifier is then considered as the manufacturer and must fulfil the obligations of the Machinery Directive when it is placed on the market. However, where modifications were foreseen or agreed by the manufacturer and covered by the manufacturer's risk assessment, technical documentation and Declaration of Conformity, the original CE marking remains valid. This might include minor alterations necessary when integrating a machine within an assembly line, provided they were foreseen and permitted by the manufacturers of all of the relevant parts of the assembly line.

Simple machinery refurbishment

Refurbishment of machinery amounting to disassembly and a rebuild to original specification albeit with replacement parts, which may be newer designs, will not usually attract the provisions of the Machinery Directive. Simply repainting a machine, undertaking servicing and routine maintenance, changing motors, replacing parts such as guards with essentially identical new ones, even the replacement of original safety critical parts with newer better ones (eg modern higher quality interlocks wired into the control system in the same way as before) does not amount to a substantial change. However, compliance with existing law (PUWER, etc on users of work equipment, section 6 duty on suppliers etc) is required.

Updated: 2020-09-04