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EC Machinery Directive

This European Directive has been in force since 1 January 1995. The current version is 2006/42/EC. Machinery and equipment that first came onto the market after 1 January 1995 must meet this directive.

The directive sets minimum safety requirements with respect to machines, but also lifting equipment which is traded and used in the European Community. As such, the directive is intended for manufacturers and specifies strength and construction-related regulations which must guarantee safe use as much as possible.

The EC Machinery Directive has been incorporated into Dutch legislation in the:

  • Commodities Act by the Commodities Act Decree for Machines
  • Dangerous Machines Act by the Machines Decree.

The following products fall under these:

  • machines
  • interchangeable equipment
  • safety components
  • lifting and hoisting equipment
  • chains, cables and straps: products which have been designed and produced for lifting and hoisting purposes as part of lifting and hoisting machinery or lifting and hoisting equipment
  • removable mechanical transmission systems and partly completed machines.

The Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) has the following definitions which apply to machines:

  • an assembly, fitted with or intended to be fitted with a drive system other than directly applied human or animal effort, consisting of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, and which are joined together for a specific application;
  • interchangeable equipment means a device which, after the putting into service of machinery or of a tractor, is assembled with that machinery or tractor by the operator himself in order to change its function or attribute a new function, in so far as this equipment is not a tool;
  •  a safety component means a component which serves to fulfil a safety function, which is independently placed on the market, the failure and/or malfunction of which endangers the safety of persons, and which is not necessary in order for the machinery to function, or for which normal components may be substituted in order for the machinery to function.



Products which fall under these definitions are required to meet the basic requirements of the directive. The manufacturer of the importer is responsible for this. Likewise, there is an administrative obligation to be complied with (technical file for 10 years, user instructions, etc.) If a product is compliant, it can be given a CE mark of approval and a manufacturer’s declaration (EC declaration of conformity, model IIA or IIB). As such, these products can be marketed freely across the whole of the European Economic Area (EEA).


CE IIA declaration
Completed machines that fall under the scope of the Machinery Directive are required to come with an EC declaration of conformity. The content of this declaration can be found in annex IIA of the Machinery Directive. This is sometimes just referred to as the IIA declaration.


CE IIB declaration
In general, partly completed machines do not meet the requirements of the Machinery Directive, or only in part. If these machines are incorporated into or assembled with other (partly completed) machinery or equipment, they may be marketed if they are accompanied by a declaration of incorporation with respect to partly completed machines. The content of this declaration can be found in annex IIB of the Machinery Directive. For that reason, the declaration is often just referred to as the IIB declaration.

CE and modifications to machines

An owner of a machine may decide to have it modified. As soon as the effect of these modifications or alterations means that the machine no longer meets the basic requirements of the Machinery Directive, the product may no longer be used. However, should the owner still wish to use the machine, he or she must first ensure that this complies once again with the basic requirements. Specifically, this means that the owner must carry out a Risk Identification & Evaluation (RI&E) with respect to the modification, put together a Technical Construction File of the modification and, if necessary, change the user manual.

EC Directive on Work Equipment

The European Directive on Work Equipment (89/655/EEC) relates to safety. The directive is intended for the user or the individual responsible for the safe use of machines or lifting equipment.
This directive (89/655/EEG) ensures that every European country can enforce its own national safety policy (inspection and maintenance). It is aimed at the user of and/or the person responsible for the safe use of the machinery, installations and equipment. More often than not, this is the employer. This requires making adequate instructions for the proper use of the machinery, supervision in respect of safe use, etc.

National laws covering health & safety at work

Working Conditions Act (Arbowet)

  • The Working Conditions Act forms the basis of legislation on health and safety at work. The act contains general provisions which apply to all places where work is carried out (this also means charities and clubs). The Working Conditions Act is a piece of framework legislation. This means that it does not set out any concrete regulations. These are specified in greater detail in the Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit) and the Working Conditions Regulations (Arboregeling). The government website contains the full text of this act.

Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit)

  • The Working Conditions Decree fleshes out the Working Conditions Act in more detail. It lists the regulations with which both the employer and employees must comply in order to minimise risks in the workplace. These regulations are mandatory.
  • The decree includes the minimum regulations as set down in the European Directive on Work Equipment. All equipment in the workplace must satisfy the provisions of this decree.
  • Article 7 (paragraphs 7.2 and 7.3) of the Working Conditions Decree talks about the regulations which must be complied with when acquiring and commissioning work equipment in the workplace for use by employees. It also contains regulations on how hazards need to be minimised when using and maintaining this work equipment (Paragraphs 7.4a, 7.18, 7.18A, 7.20 and 7.29).

In a number of sectors and categories alternative and supplementary rules may apply. The government website contains the full text of this decree.