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EC deadline extension delays machine safety improvements

10 November 2009

The European Commission (EC) has extended the deadline for the adoption of the new machinery directive until 2012, giving machine builders and control system suppliers an extra three years to comply with new machinery safety standards. Many companies involved in the machine building sector have invested considerable time and money in preparing to follow the new standards and achieve compliance by the end of this year – the original deadline.

EC deadline extension delays machine safety improvements
EC deadline extension delays machine safety improvements

But given that some organisations have found it difficult to prepare for the change, the deadline for withdrawal of the presumption of conformity for EN 954-1 has been extended.

The extension of the deadline means that BS EN 954-1 can be used to support compliance to the European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC until 2012, in spite of the introduction of new replacement standards. BS EN 954-1 has long been followed for presumption of conformity to the Machinery Directive 98/37/EC. However, the two new standards ― BS EN ISO 13849-1 or BS EN 62061 ― that have been developed were set to replace BS EN 954-1 on December 29 2009, and would have been the only control system standards accepted under the new European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

This means that machine builders can now continue using the old standard for another three years, potentially delaying advancements in machine safety.

Many responsible equipment suppliers are fully supportive of the new directive and have invested in a product range that helps machine builders meet the new standards.  Peter Still, industry standards manager at Schneider Electric, commented: “BS EN 954-1 is well understood and is seen as simple to use, but is not rigorous enough to ensure sufficient safety integrity in many modern and complex machines. Complying with the new standards may be more time consuming, but it can achieve greater levels of safety throughout the machine’s life.
“Despite the deadline extension, it is particularly important that machine builders start complying with the two new standards as soon as possible, to ensure they are working to the highest level of safety,” he recommended.

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