Playing safe with the EC's Machinery Directive

Automation component developer Festo has introduced a one-day course which it claimed will give machine designers and builders and maintenance personnel an understanding of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

The Directive was due to come into force at the end of this month as EN ISO 13849-1, replacing the EN 954-1 safety standard, but the EC Machinery Working Group has extended the transition period between the two. However, Festo Product Manager Steve Sands warned that machine builders who've not yet embraced the new standard should not delay any longer.

"We all need to fully commit to the production world's ideal of zero machine-related accidents," he said. "Although machine builders will continue to benefit from EN 954-1's presumption of conformity for a while, a much better way of complying with both the intention and the spirit of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is to adopt the new EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard now. This does not need to be as onerous as it has been portrayed."

The new one-day orientation course, 'Understanding the new machine directive' was created by Festo Didactic, the training and consulting division of Festo, in response to issues brought up by customers, Sands said. It provides an overview of the key aspects and implications of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, including risk assessment, analysis and evaluation as required by EN ISO 13849-1.

This new safety spec applies to all types of machines, including electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical. It provides a method for implementing technical safety measures and then evaluating their effectiveness.

Sands added that Festo is interested in this area as it supplies components such as proximity sensors, pneumatic valves, and fail-safe brake units for pneumatic actuators, which can be used to add safety features to machinery.

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