UNM and the European “Machinery” Regulation

UNM and the European “Machinery” Regulation

The European Machinery Regulation has the greatest impact on UNM standards. Of the 850 standards harmonised with these regulations, 560 are monitored and managed by UNM.

It encapsulates technical and regulatory requirements for the design of machinery, with the sole purpose of ensuring the safety of operators. Harmonised standards are developed by standardisation bodies and are a means of complying with the essential requirements of these regulations.

The “Machinery” Regulation has just been adopted by the Council as a revision of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, and UNM is more than ever involved in the process of revising the collection of “Machinery” standards.


Link between regulation and standardisation

The free movement of goods is a cornerstone of the European single market. The mechanisms in place to achieve this objective are based on the prevention of new barriers to trade, mutual recognition and technical harmonisation. The new approach to technical harmonisation and standardisation is based on the following principles set out in the 1985 Council Resolution:

  • Harmonisation is limited to essential requirements,
  • Only products that meet the essential requirements may be placed on the market and put into service,
  • Harmonised standards, the reference numbers of which have been published in the Official Journal and which have been transposed into national standards, are presumed to comply with the corresponding essential requirements,
  • The application of harmonised standards or other technical specifications is left to the discretion of manufacturers , who are free to choose any technical solution that guarantees compliance with the essential requirements,
  • Manufacturers can choose between different conformity assessment procedures provided for in the applicable directive.

Harmonised standards

A “harmonised standard” is a European standard adopted by one of the European standardisation bodies – CEN, CENELEC and ETSI – on the basis of a request for standardisation submitted by the European Commission. Products that comply with harmonised standards or parts thereof and whose references have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) will be deemed to comply with the requirements covered by the standards in question. Any harmonised standard whose reference has been published in the OJEU gives a presumption of conformity with the Directive it supports.

Harmonised standards contain an Annex ZA which establishes the link between the Essential Requirements of the Directive and the requirements of the standard.

The Safety of machinery standards

There are three types of safety of machinery standards:

  • Type-A standards (basic safety standards) giving basic concepts, principles for design and general aspects that can be applied to machinery,
  • Type-B standards (generic safety standards) dealing with one safety aspect or one type of safeguard that can be used across a wide range of machinery,
  • Type-B1 standards on particular safety aspects (for example, safety distances, surface temperature, noise)
  • Type-B2 standards, (for example, two-hand controls, interlocking devices, pressure-sensitive devices, guards),
  • Type-C standards (machine safety standards) dealing with detailed safety requirements for a particular machine or group of machines.


For a particular safety requirement (e.g. emergency stop), Type C standards refer to the Type B standard, which covers this requirement for all machines.


Revision of the “Machinery” Directive into the “Machinery” Regulation

The European Commission proposed the draft of the new “Machinery” Regulation in April 2021.

There are several reasons for this revision:

  • Ensuring consistency with the EU legislative framework for products
  • Providing provisions for high-risk machines
  • Covering the new risks associated with new technologies

The new “Machinery” Regulation has just been adopted by the Council. Once it has been signed by the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council, the regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will take effect 20 days after its publication. Member States will then have a 42-month transition period before it is applied.
See the Council’s article

Since April 2021, the topic of adapting the collection of “Machinery” standards has been at the heart of discussions in the safety of machinery Sector Forum. The proposed solutions will make it easier to update standards documents during the planned transitional period.

UNM's involvement in the revision of the “Machinery” Directive

UNM keeps a close eye on issues relating to the Safety of machinery, notably by participating in AFNOR’s COS SST (Comité Stratégique Santé et Sécurité au Travail – Occupational Health and Safety Strategical Committee) and by acting as secretariat for the European Sector Forum, which coordinates standardisation activities on the subject.

The Sector Forum is a consultative and coordinating body for standardisation activities relating to machinery, this committee liaises with the European Commission and the HAS consultants (experts appointed by the European Commission (via Ernst and Young) to assess the conformity of standards with the essential requirements of European directives) on harmonised standards complying with the “Machinery” Directive and advises the technical committees on consistency between type A, B and C standards relating to machinery.

This committee brings together representatives of European Technical Committees (CEN and CENELEC), representatives of European standardisation bodies, representatives of the European Commission and HAS consultants.


With two two-day meetings a year, the  enables the pitfalls and concerns of standardisation stakeholders to be brought directly to the attention of the European Commission, which is why it is a strategic body.

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner