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Guidance on buying new machinery



Guidance on buying new machinery



  1. What is meant by 'Machinery' ?
  2. Practical matters
  3. Is CE Marking a Guarantee of Safety ?
  4. What do I need to do when buying a new machine ?
  5. Checklist A - What should I talk to a supplier (or manufacturer) about ? (Please download the MS Word version of Checklist_a (RTF, 20 KB)
  6. Checklist B - What do I do when I have bought new machinery ?  (Please download the MS Word version of Checklist_b (RTF, 20 KB)
  7. What other supply law is there ?
  8. What does a declaration of conformity have on it?
  9. What is a declaration of incorporation ?
  10. Do importers and suppliers have to follow these requirements even if the machinery is made outside Europe?
  11. Does new machinery have to be made to any particular standards ?
  12. What about buying second hand machinery ?
  13. Exclusions


This guidance, which is based on the HSE leaflet entitled "Buying New Machinery", explains the main requirements of health and safety laws governing buying new and second-hand machinery.


What is meant by 'machinery'?


A machine is normally regarded as being a piece of equipment which has moving parts and, usually, some kind of drive unit.


Examples include:


  • Fork-lift truck.
  • Metal working drill.
  • Paper making machine.
  • Circular saw.
  • Combine harvester.
  • Lifting equipment (and even lifting tackle).
  • Escalator.
  • Meat mincing machine.
  • Baling machine.


Practical matters


You may already know that most new machinery should have CE marking when you buy it. However, CE marking is only a claim by the manufacturer that the machinery is safe and that they have met relevant supply law. You, the user, also have to check that it is, in fact, safe. To understand what this means when you are buying new machinery, it helps if you understand what the manufacturer (or supplier) has to do.


Is CE marking a guarantee of safety?


No. The manufacturer is claiming that the machinery complies with the law. You still need to check the machine is safe before it is used.


What do I need to do when buying a new machine?


Before you buy it, think about:


  • Where and how it will be used.
  • What it will be used for.
  • Who will use it (skilled employees, trainees).
  • What risks to health and safety might result.
  • Comparing how well health and safety risks are controlled by different manufacturers.


This can help you to decide which machine may be suitable, particularly if you are buying a standard machine 'off the shelf'.


If you are buying a more complex or custom-built machine you should discuss your requirements with potential suppliers. They can often advise you on the options available.


For a custom-built machine, you can use the opportunity to work with the supplier to design out the causes of injury and ill-health. Some of the items

you can cover are in checklist A. Time spent now on agreeing the necessary safeguards, to control health and safety risks, could save you time and money later.


Note: Sometimes machinery is supplied via another organisation, e.g. an importer, rather than direct from the manufacturer, so this organisation is referred to as the supplier.


When you place the order, specify in writing that the machine should be safe.


What you have bought it, look for CE marking, check that you have a copy of the Declaration of Conformity and a set of instructions in English on how the machine should be used and, most important of all, check to see if you think that it is safe.


How can I check the machine?


First make sure that the supplier (or installer) has given you information on how the machine works and its safety features. With smaller off-the-shelf machinery, this should be included with the machine. With complex or custom- built machines this may be demonstrated by the supplier.


Then have a close look at it. Many things that affect safety are obvious; others can be detected using common sense and taking time to have a good look at your new machine. You can always compare it with any existing similar machines you have, to see if it is at least as good, or (hopefully) better.

Think about the following:


  • Do any parts look dangerous, e.g. exposed gear wheels, cutters?
  • Are there guards and are they in place?
  • Can the machine operate with the guards removed?
  • Do you understand the controls?
  • Can dust or fumes escape from the machine?
  • Is it excessively noisy?
  • Is there excessive vibration?
  • Are any exposed parts likely to be extremely hot or cold?
  • Are there any live electrical parts which are exposed or easy to get at?
  • Are there any special features, e.g. slow speed running, for use when setting?
  • Are the manufacturers' instructions clear and comprehensive?


Checklist A          (Please download the MS Word version of Checklist_b (RTF, 20 KB))


What should I talk to a supplier (or manufacturer) about?


Tell the supplier where the machine will be used, what you want to use it for and who will be using it, particularly if it is a complex or custom-built machine.


Ask the supplier the following:


  • What health and safety risks might there be when using the machine?
  • Are there any dangerous parts and what guards will be provided?
  • Will it need emergency stop controls and how will it be isolated?
  • How do the controls and control systems work?
  • Will dust or fumes, etc be produced by the machine? If these are likely to be in significant quantities, can an existing extraction system be adapted to cope with the new machine or will you have to buy a new system?
  • Has the machinery been designed to minimise the noise and vibration levels produced?
  • Are there any extremely hot or very cold parts of the machine, and can they be insulated or protected?
  • Are there any lasers or thickness gauges, and can any exposure to radiation be eliminated? If not, what precautions are there to stop any exposure to radiation?
  • What has been done to eliminate the risk of electric shock particularly during maintenance work, when covers or control panel doors may be open?
  • Are there possible risks from other sources of energy such as hydraulic or pneumatic?
  • Is there clear information about installation, maintenance and breakdown procedures?
  • Will you inform me if problems arise with similar machines bought by other users?


In addition, it is good practice for the supplier or manufacturer to have a service back-up or help-line, so that you can get further information as you need it. You could check what is in place before buying.


Checklist B     (Please download the MS Word version of Checklist_b (RTF, 20 KB))


What do I do when I have bought new machinery?


  • Check that it has CE marking (where necessary) and ask for a copy of the EC Declaration of Conformity if you have not been given one.


  • Check that the supplier has explained what the machinery is designed to be used for and what it cannot be used for (unless this is off-the-shelf machinery).


  • Make sure a manual has been supplied which includes instructions for safe use, assembly, installation, commissioning, safe handling, adjustment and maintenance.


  • Make sure the instruction manual is written in English. (The maintenance instructions may however be written in another language if specialised staff from the manufacturer or supplier will carry out maintenance).


  • Make sure information has been provided about any remaining risks from the machine, and the precautions you need to take to deal with them. These may include electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, stored energy, thermal, radiation or health hazards.


  • Check that data about noise and vibration levels have been provided and, where necessary, explained to you.


  • Ensure that any warning signs are visible and easy to understand.


  • For a complex or custom-built machine arrange for a trial run so you can be shown the safety features and how they work.


  • Check to see if you think the machine is safe.


  • Make sure any early concerns about the safety of the machine are reported to the supplier.





Never assume that machinery is safe just because it has CE marking.


What other supply law is there?


  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, which apply to electrical equipment whose risks are mainly electrical, for example photocopiers, portable electric tools.


  • The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 1992 which cover equipment likely to cause electromagnetic disturbance, or whose performance is likely to be affected by electromagnetic disturbance.


For more information, read Supplying new machinery, INDG270.


What does a Declaration of Conformity have on it?


  • The name and address of the manufacturer or other responsible person;


  • The make, type and serial number of the machine.


  • The signature of an authorised person and information on:


              - which standards have been used in the design and manufacture (if any);

              -what European Union laws (directives) the machine complies with.


What is a declaration of incorporation?


If the machine is intended for:


* incorporation into another machine;


* assembly with other machines:


the manufacturer can issue a 'Declaration of Incorporation'. In this case the machine should not have CE marking.


Do importers and suppliers have to follow all these requirements even if the machinery is made outside Europe?


All suppliers have to make sure the machinery they supply in the European Economic Area (EEA) is safe no matter where it is made. The EEA includes the European Union member countries and also Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, but excludes Switzerland even though that country is implementing the European Directive.


They also need to check that:


* the manufacturer has carried out all the steps involved in making sure the machine is safe;


* there is a Declaration of Conformity or Incorporation for the machine;


* there are full instructions for installing, using and maintaining the machine;


* if complete, the machine has CE marking.



WARNING - If you are importing or constructing the machine yourself, you take on the responsibilities of the supplier.


Does new machinery have to be made to any particular standards?


The machine must comply with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the supply law. However when a machine has been made to the specification in a harmonised European Standard (identified by an EN before the number, e.g. BS EN...), there is a presumption that it conforms to the relevant EHSRs. The use of these standards is voluntary. Some European Standards for particular types of machinery are already available, others are being written.


Manufacturers can design and manufacture their machinery to other product standards, e.g. British or American standards, as long as they are certain the machine will comply with the relevant EHSRs and be safe. However, the use of such standards, during manufacture, does not give a presumption of conformity with the relevant EHSRs.


In some circumstances, machinery (for example, some woodworking machinery and power-presses) must be type-examined by an independent third party if they are not made in accordance with a harmonised standard. Details will be given on the Declaration of Conformity.


What about buying second-hand machinery?


It has to be safe for use. In most cases it will not have CE marking, but it is still the duty of the supplier to make sure that it is safe and has instructions for safe use. There is also the duty on you (the user) to make sure that second-hand machinery is:

* safe;

* suitable for the work it is to do;

* maintained in a safe condition.


If a second-hand machine has been totally refurbished (for example, adding CNC control to a machine, together with other work) it may have CE marking. This is because the way it operates is different after the refurbishment and as a result it has been treated as if it was a new machine.



The supply law does not apply to the following machinery:

* Those intended for use outside the EEA;

* Second-hand (when not refurbished);

* Manually-powered machinery except machinery used for lifting or lowering loads;

* Medical machinery used in direct contact with patients;

* Specialised fairground or amusement park equipment;

* Steam boilers, tanks and pressure vessels;

* Nuclear equipment which will emit radioactivity if it fails;

* Radioactive sources forming part of a machine;

* Firearms;

* Storage tanks and pipelines for petrol, diesel, inflammable liquids and dangerous substances;

* Passenger transport vehicles and their trailers, air, road, rail or water;

* Sea-going vessels and mobile offshore units and their equipment;

* Cableways, including funicular railways, used to carry passengers;

* Some agricultural and forestry tractors;

* Military and police equipment;

* Some lifts;

* Mine winding gear;

* Theatre elevators

* Construction site hoists



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Checklist_a (RTF, 20 KB)

Checklist_b (RTF, 20 KB)