Laidler gives safety standard delay decision a cautious welcome
08 February 2010
Laidler Associates welcomes the news that the replacement of the well-known EN 954-1 safety standard has been delayed by 2 years. It will now be withdrawn on December 31st 2011 after being harmonised to the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.
Nevertheless, Laidler stated that this move does nothing to change the fact that EN 954-1 is deficient in many areas. Expert guidance is, therefore, highly desirable when relying on this standard, particular in relation to new designs.
The new standard, EN ISO 13849-1 "Safety of machinery, Safety-related parts of control systems", had been expected to replace EN 954-1 at the end of 2009. However, machine and control system builders expressed serious concerns about difficulties in applying the new standard in practice, particularly as it calls for component MTBF (mean time between failure) data that, in many cases, is not currently available.
In response to these concerns, the Machinery Directive Working Group of the European Environmental & Technical Regulation Directorate recently announced that it was receptive to the idea that EN 954-1 could continue to be accepted "for a certain time", which has now been confirmed as 2 years.
"For most control system and machine builders, this is very good news," said Paul Laidler, managing director of Laidler Associates, "since it gives time for the work needed to underpin the new EN ISO 13849-1 standard to be carried out carefully and thoroughly. Nevertheless, retaining EN 954-1 does have its downside, as there are many areas that this standard doesn't cover including, for example, programmable safety equipment, which simply didn't exist when it was formulated."
"For this reason, control system and machine builders must be careful about placing too much reliance on EN 954-1 as a way of demonstrating that they have fully met their obligations in relation to control system safety. This is, in fact, a complex area where most companies will benefit from expert guidance."
"At Laidler, we have used our wide experience in industrial safety and compliance to carefully analyse this complex situation and the issues it creates. As a result, we are in a prime position to provide that guidance." Laidler's focus in providing consultancy services for EN 954-1 and EN 18439-1 is to work with its clients to develop comprehensive and dependable solutions that are practical, convenient and cost effective
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