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Keeping up with the changing face of EN safety standards

18 October, 2013

It can be difficult to keep track of changes in EN standards. Machine safety expert Paul Laidler, who is business director (machinery) at TÜV SÜD in the UK, offers some advice.

EN Standards are the lifeblood of machinery safety, offering a recognised route to compliance when applied correctly. Unlike the actual Directives, which change infrequently, standards can change more often and these changes can catch you out with realising it. So what can we do to alleviate the problem?

The Official Journal of the European Union contains the official list of standards harmonised to the Machinery Directive. The problem with this list is that you don’t always know whether a standard listed as new has been implemented into a particular country by the relevant National Member. In the UK, this is done by BSI and a quick check on its Web site will help to show the current status of a standard. Digging a little further, you can also access a development area to get additional information about standards in the pipeline.

If you want to keep informed as far as possible in advance about standards in development, then the CEN Web site is probably the place to go. CEN is the European Committee for Standardisation (Comité européen de normalisation). It provides a platform for the development of European Standards (ENs) and other consensus documents. Part of the site is given over to sectors and this is where you can access a list of Technical Committees and workshops.

Each committee or workshop lists standards that they work on, both published and in development. Checking the relevant committee lists can give you future notice of changes to standards, several years in advance of their actual publication. You may then be able to comment on any changes and become part of the whole standardisation process.

This may seem like a lot of bother but if you do go through the steps above, you won’t get caught out when a standard changes – such as the publication of BS EN ISO 14119 at the end of October, 2013. The standard will supersede the well-established BS EN 1088 Safety of machinery. Interlocking devices associated with guards. Principles for design and selection, which has been one of the key machinery safety standards since it was first published back in 1995. Since then, it’s been amended ­– the last time in 2008 – but as of 31 October, 2013, it will be withdrawn and superseded by BS EN ISO 14119.

Do you use BS EN 1088 as part of your machinery safety processes? When a whole new standard is introduced like this, it is more than likely that there will significant changes in the content and so a full review is required. We’ll look at some of the changes in BS EN ISO 14119 in detail in the next blog.

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