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The Machinery Directive 98/37/EC provides the regulatory basis for the harmonisation of the essential health and safety requirements for machinery at European Union level. Essentially performing a dual function, the Directive not only promotes the free movement of machinery within the Single Market, but also guarantees a high level of protection to EU workers and citizens. Being a 'New Approach' Directive, it promotes harmonisation through a combination of mandatory health and safety requirements and voluntary harmonised standards. Such directives apply only to products which are intended to be placed (or put into service) on the EU market for the first time.
Machinery is described in the Directive as 'an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, with the appropriate actuators, control and power circuits, etc., joined together for a specific application, in particular for the processing, treatment, moving or packaging of a material'. The manufacturer is responsible for verifying whether a particular product falls within the scope of the Machinery Directive.
See also comments on Directive 98/37/EC and useful facts in relation to Directive 98/37/EC , based on information available in December 1998. Also, there is a Proposal and Amended Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Machinery and amending Directive 95/16/EC on Lifts. A specific Study on the Restrictions of the Free Circulation of Off-road Machinery in the European Union is available.
The easiest route to demonstrate compliance with the Directive is to comply with Harmonised European Standards: see Machinery standardisation. When, for Annex IV products, Harmonised Standards are not available or do not cover all essential safety requirements or when a manufacturer considers them inappropriate for his product, he must seek the opinion of an independent third party, a Notified Body. These are appointed by the Member States after having proven that they have the relevant expertise to provide such an opinion. Although a Notified Body has various responsibilities under the Directive, the manufacturer (or authorised representative) always remains responsible for the compliance of the product. See also the Recommendation for Use sheetsissued by the Co-ordination of Notified Bodies. Member States are the prime responsible for implementing this Directive: see Central contact points. Manufacturers have to notify the intention to place certain products on the market and market surveillance authorities communicate with manufacturers when it suspects that products do not comply with the Directive.
Links to the latest developments and activities in international European policy are available in International.
For further information, if you have any query concerning the Machinery Directive or the content of this site, please address your mail to the specific Machinery functional e-mail box.
 
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Last Updated:Thursday 23rd March 2006 ICP10012532