Understanding the Machinery Directive

Understanding the Machinery Directive – Safety First_First image – Parker Hannifin Pneumatic Division North AmericaIn every manufacturing industry, machine safety is always a top priority. When operating in Europe, utilizing machinery and components with CE certification is the best way to ensure the reliability of the equipment that benefits both production and the operators who use the equipment. 


What is the Machinery Directive?

First published in 1989, the Machinery Directive was designed to provide freedom of movement across Europe for machinery and safety of workers in an effort to reduce injuries. 

In 2009, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC became law in Europe, and its primary role is to ensure common safety levels of machinery placed on the market and put into service. 

Today this directive lays down the foundation and regulatory basis for the harmonization of Essential Health and Safety requirements (EHSR) in the field of machinery. It is unified with CE requirements and covers almost 21 distinct EN Standards to guide machine builders on safety requirements and has worked to harmonize with other safety organizations. Ultimately becoming the foremost authority on where to go to design a safe piece of equipment globally.


Directive qualities

A unique quality of the Machinery Directive is its broad coverage for machinery design. The standards start at concept of design or designing out risk. The directive mandates a technical file be kept on the machine to show its inception and what risk avoidance was implemented to create a safer machine. 

Guidance is provided to the machinery builder in the form of EN standards which mandate a risk assessment be conducted on machinery. Finally, the directive includes information on disposal at end of life of machinery. While broad, the directives do a great job of ensuring safety is addressed at every level and even account for “unintended use of machinery” at the design stage.



Another interesting note is given that one of the primary purposes of the Machinery Directive is to ensure common safety, the directive does not mandate the use of safety rated products. It does clearly differentiate standard components used in a safety application versus those products built and intended as safety rated products.

Understanding the Machinery Directive - P33 safety valve - Parker Hannifin Pneumatic Division Europe

Safety rated products are classified separately and are subjected to more rigorous requirements, testing and expectations for performance. 

The directive does state that common sense strategies be employed on machinery such as the use of e-stop buttons, the removal of air in a machine to protect from unexpected movement (where safe to do so) and the addition of technical measures where risk cannot be designed out. Additionally, to meet enhanced safety levels on machinery, redundancy and monitoring must be included in the controls of the machine EN ISO 13849-1 as well as validation of the system EN ISO 13849-2.

Some manufacturers offer safety rated components, such as Parker’s P33 series of safety exhaust valves, which meet the needs of the directive to remove air from machinery during either an e-stop or a faulted condition on the machine. 

Knowing that products now exist which incorporate the needs of the directive and provide an enhanced level of certified safety can bring peace of mind to machinery designers and the engineers responsible for enhanced and integrated safety on machines. 

If you would like to find out more about Parker’s P33 series of safety exhaust valves and the benefits they can bring to your machine-building projects, please download our white paper What You Need to Know About Safety Exhaust Valves.


Understanding the Machine Directive_Linda Caron_Pneumatic Division North AmericaArticle contributed by Linda Caron, global product manager for Factory Automation, Pneumatic Division.






Related content:

How to Achieve Safe Motion Control in ATEX Environments

Know Your Pneumatics: Safety Exhaust Valves

When is a Standard Pneumatic Valve Not Good Enough?


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