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Switching into safety engineering - Applicable Standards, Directives and Regulations

10 June, 2021

A series of feature articles and webinars sponsored by Euchner, covering the philosophy behind safe machinery and the role that the various types of safety switches and devices can perform.

Several relevant regulations and standards apply to operators and manufacturers of plant and equipment. Fig 1 shows how over recent years the EU Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) has applied to those who are manufacturing, commissioning or placing equipment on the market. This is incorporated into UK domestic law through the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, or CE Marking. Essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of machinery are defined in Annex I of the Directive.

Fig 1: Applicable Directives and Regulations for Plant/Machinery in the EU and UK

Although standards are important tools for application of the Machinery Directive, they are not mandatory. However, once the references of harmonised standards have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, application of their specifications confers a presumption of conformity with the essential health and safety requirements covered by the standard.

Table 2 lists some of the common standards which apply to the safe operation of machinery. Of relevance to safety switches is EN ISO 14119:2013 - Interlocking devices associated with guards - Principles for design & selection.

The Machinery Directive is not the only Directive you may need to consider for CE marking! Others include:

  • Low Voltage Directive (LVD) - 2006/95/EC
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (EMC) - 2004/108/EC
  • Atmosphère Explosif (ATEX) – 94/9/EC
  • Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) – 97/23/EC


For those who operate, use, maintain or retrofit equipment, the Use of Work Equipment Directive (2009/104/EC) applies. Similarly, this is incorporated into UK domestic law through the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Directive (PUWER).

Post-Brexit changes

Things are changing! The post-Brexit transition from CE marking to UKCA marking is happening now. Here, we focus on the transition process, while the accompanying webinar will cover all the relevant regulations and standards in much more depth.

CE marking means that machines in the UK and Europe conform with the safety requirements of the 'Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008' and Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC respectively, before they can be sold and placed on the market. CE marking is the responsibility of the person who places the product on the market, or puts it into service, for the first time.

Most new products placed on the European market must be CE marked. This includes products which are "new" to Europe, that is second-hand products from outside Europe and which are put into service or placed on the market in Europe for the first time, and existing products which are so ‘substantially modified’ as to be considered "new".

The transition to UKCA

UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is the new UK product marking that is used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain. It came into effect on 1 January 2021. To allow businesses in the UK time to adjust to the post-Brexit regime, they will still (in most cases) be able to use the EU's CE marking system until the end of 2021.

As the UK regulations just happen to be near-identical, word for word, to EC Directives, they will almost certainly remain in force as they are. And it seems highly unlikely that the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) would wish to see any relaxation of health and safety regulations in the UK.

But the procedural changes will affect both Machine Users - who purchase, build or modify equipment "significantly" - and the Machine Builders who manufacture them.

Fig 2 shows how the changes UKCA and CE marking could affect your business:

(a) For a machine builder selling into the GB market, both UKCA and CE marks are valid up until 31 December 2021. Currently, the requirements of both UKCA and CE are almost identical, but if the EU changes the requirements of CE marking, there is no commitment from the UK that they will incorporate the changes into the requirements of UKCA - and vice versa.

(b) For a machine builder selling into the European market, the UKCA mark is not recognised. Products will still need to be CE marked and an "economic operator" within the EU engaged with. This could be an importer or authorised representative, both of which have the responsibility to ensure the machine is CE marked and safe. They also must retain a copy of the Technical Construction File.

(c) For a machine user in the UK who is purchasing, manufacturing, significantly upgrading or linking existing equipment, the option of UKCA or CE marking is available up until the end of 2021. After that, the UKCA mark must be used.

(d) For those looking to purchase a machine from outside the UK, it must be UKCA marked and placed on the market by an "economic operator" in the UK.

(e) An additional layer of complexity applies in Northern Ireland

EU conformity markings will continue to be used to show that goods meet EU rules after 1 January 2021. For most workplace equipment and machinery and civil explosives, this is the CE marking.

If you are using a UK body to carry out mandatory third-party conformity assessment, then you will also need to apply a UKNI marking (sometimes referred to as the UK(NI) mark or the UK(NI) indication) from 1 January 2021. You never apply the UKNI marking on its own - it always accompanies an EU conformity marking, such as the CE marking.

Goods with the CE and UKNI marking cannot be placed on the market in the EU.

The UKCA marking cannot be used for goods placed on the Northern Ireland market.

More details on UKCA marking will be discussed in Webinar 3 which takes place at 10am on Tuesday 6 July.


Anyone wishing clarification on any of the issues discussed here, please send us your questions in advance at

This is the third part of our ‘Switching into safety engineering’ series which will include comprehensive articles and follow-up Zoom Q&A sessions – to register for the series or to request a copy of the free machinery safety guidebook, please visit



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