The approval of machines is subject to different regulations worldwide. In the European Economic Area, European harmonization regulations, such as the Machinery Directive, govern all important requirements. However, with the withdrawal of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) from the European Union (EU), the requirements for placing machinery on Great Britain (GB) market will also change from 2021.
The basic rule is that if you are planning to export machinery, it is crucial to be informed of and apply the proper approval procedures and technical regulations in order to avoid problems at customs or during commissioning. Such considerations should be made as a part of the machinery design phase.
Approval procedures vary and are the national requirements of the country to which machinery is imported. These procedures and their respective requirements must be applied in a diligent manner. In general, these requirements are similar and not overly complex, but European machine builders may not be familiar with these regulations. It is therefore advantageous to be informed of the specific approval procedures for the relevant countries of export at an early stage.
Normatively, the technical regulations for machines have not yet been harmonized to the same extent as, for example, in the area of IT equipment. However, test reports according to EN/IEC standards or EN ISO standards for the global market (except North America) already offer a very good basis for facilitating the compliance process.
Another piece of good news: In many countries, there are already extensive national mandatory approvals for consumer goods. In the area of industrial equipment import regulations are less stringent, because import of machinery usually leads to the creation of jobs and supports the economy. Therefore, their import is less likely to be hindered.
In the European Union and the United Kingdom, the same regulations applied until the end of 2020 with regard to product approval and labelling requirements. Following completion of the Brexit process, the question for manufacturers and exporters now is what are the requirements for machinery from 1st January 2021.
Now that the United Kingdom has left the EU, the two principal requirements applicable to machinery in Great Britain are the following -
- Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008
* CE marking according to the Machinery Directive remains acceptable until 1st January 2022, however the UK Government strongly advises adoption of the UKCA marking as soon as possible.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) with regard to workplace safety
CE and UKCA marking on machinery
In order for a machine to be placed on the European internal market, the manufacturer or his authorized representative must prove and declare the conformity of the machine. He is then obliged to affix the CE marking to the machine.
Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU on 1st January 2021 a one-year ‘standstill period’ begins and ending on 31st December 2021, during which time the CE marking will still be accepted.
From 1st January 2021, the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking will be required to be placed on machinery on the market in Great Britain. The UKCA marking will be applied in accordance with national regulations, which are very similar to those of the Machinery Directive.
For the majority of machines, a self-declaration in accordance with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and completed by the manufacturer will be possible. However, for Annex IV machinery defined under Schedule 2 of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, certification by a UK Conformity Assessment Body will be required. European notified bodies, such as TÜV Rheinland, are currently applying for the relevant accreditation to be a UK Conformity Assessment Body.
In Northern Ireland CE marking is required, not UKCA. If the product requires a third-party conformity assessment body and it was carried out by an UK notified body then an additional UK(NI) marking must be added (this means it is only suitable for Northern Ireland and not the whole of the EU). If an EU notified body was used then no UK(NI) marking is required.
UK Notified Bodies
Since 2018, UK notified bodies have lost their status in the EU. This means that such bodies can no longer support CE marking for Annex IV machinery. At the same time, UK Notified Bodies have not been on the relevant European technical committees.
Normative regulations in Great Britain
Following completion of the Brexit process, the UK is no longer a member of the European standards bodies, CEN and CENELEC. In order to avoid any technical issues, a transition period has been agreed and the membership of BSI (British Standards Institution) has been extended until 31st December 2021. Compliance to machinery safety requirements can therefore continue to be demonstrated by means of European (EN) standards, or the equivalent UK versions of European harmonized standards (UK Designated Standards).
The UKCA marking
From 1st January 2022 the CE marking will no longer be accepted in Great Britain and only the UKCA marking will apply. Thus, in the future, all products exported from the EU to Great Britain must comply with the relevant UK regulations and standards, and the CE marking will not be valid in Great Britain.
Products that are subject to mandatory marking must in future be marked with the UKCA marking. This affects many products that previously required CE marking. The following is an excerpt from the general rules:
- Only manufacturers or authorized representatives may affix UKCA marks to the product.
- If the UKCA marking is affixed to the product, responsibility for the conformity of the product with the requirements of the relevant legislation is assumed.
- In Great Britain, only the UKCA marking ensures conformity with the applicable legislation. As with the CE marking, there are certain requirements for the design of the UKCA marking to be used on products.
PUWER 1998 - Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 PUWER regulates workplace safety in the UK. These regulations normally do not concern manufacturers of machines. However, in the UK specific workplace safety requirements are applied for machinery and customers/users are therefore dependent on the assistance of the machinery manufacturers in fulfilling their workplace safety obligations. For this reason, evidence of PUWER is often requested by UK customers from the manufacturer. Typically, a PUWER inspection is carried out in the final installation site of the machine.
We will be happy to offer you our support and to answer any questions you may have on this topic, please feel free to contact our experts at any time here. Alternatively, you can watch our On-Demand Webinar by our expert Justin Morgan touch-based on topics around UKCA and UK(NI) processes, scopes, and timelines in face of Brexit uncertainties.