Machine safety – what is it? 

Machines can be dangerous. Many occupational accidents are related to use of machinery, and taking care of safety requires attention to the user in design, operation and training as well as when planning maintenance. 

In Europe there is a directive regulating the safety of machinery, namely 2006/42/EC. This directive is known as the machinery directive and has been made mandatory in all EU member states as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. 

The directive requires producers of machines to identify hazards and design the machine such that the risks are removed or controlled. Only machines conforming to the directive can be sold and used in the EU. 

In practice risks must be treated using safety functions in the control system. They should be designed in accordance with recognized standards. The recommended standards are ISO 13849-1 or IEC 62061. These are different but equivalent in terms of safety. The former defines 5 performance levels (a,b,c,d,e) and the latter used 3 safety integrity levels. The most common risk analysis approach for defining PL or SIL requirements is Riskgraph. 

By conforming to the directive, basically through application of these standards together with the general principles in ISO 12100 you can put the CE mark on the machine and declare it is safe to use. Through these practices we safeguard our people, and can be confident that the machine will not be the cause of someone losing a loved one. 

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