Author: John Colreavy, inspector, Health and Safety Authority
From powered hand-tools to robot-assisted assembly lines, lawnmowers to combine harvesters, lifting slings to tower cranes, the scope of the Machinery Directive is enormous. It is one of a number of European Directives linked to the concept of a single market, i.e. free movement of goods if the product is deemed safe by meeting the health and safety requirements of the relevant Directives.
The current Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, which came into force on 29 December 2009, was transposed into national legislation by the European Communities (Machinery) Regulations 2008 [S.I.No.407 of 2008]. This Directive is amended by Directive 2009/127/EC to cover machinery for pesticide application, which is transposed by S.I.No.310 of 2011. The object of this amendment is environmental and human health protection through the provision of machinery that provides close control over pesticide application.
The Health and Safety Authority is the national competent authority for the Directive; the regulations permit functions to be assigned to the National Consumer Agency but, to date, this has not taken place.
The supply of machinery for work-related purposes is also subject to the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, which requires that any article complies with any national legislation implementing any relevant Directive.
SCOPE OF DIRECTIVE
It is easy to underestimate the scope of the Directive. It applies to machinery in the classical sense of an assembly of linked parts, of which at least one part moves and which are joined for a specific application or which is not yet fully functional unless it is fitted with a power source or mounted on a means of transport/structure. However, it also designates the following as machinery: