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Trouble Implementing ISO 13849-1; 2006 per the European Machinery Directive

The European Machinery Directive clearly calls out the required transition from EN 954 to ISO 13849-1 by December 2011. With that said, some companies in the U.S. are currently struggling with conformance to the B10 requirement for simple components in order to determine their impact on the related safety performance level. Ironically, this week I’m in Germany participating in an IEC machine safety standard update meeting and I’m surrounded by leading colleagues from around the world on machine safety.

September 30, 2010


The European Machinery Directive clearly calls out the required transition from EN 954 to ISO 13849-1 by December 2011. With that said, some companies in the U.S. are currently struggling with conformance to the B10 requirement for simple components in order to determine their impact on the related safety performance level. Ironically, this week I’m in Germany participating in an IEC machine safety standard update meeting and I’m surrounded by leading colleagues from around the world on machine safety. It seems that the U.S. is not alone in dealing with the issue that some manufacturers of components have not determined the B10 value of a component. Without the B10 value it is difficult to determine the average number of cycles until that specific component will fail.

What is the next step for a machine builder or end user (for example) to follow? In this regard, ISO 13849-1 suggests that you contact the supplier to determine and/or co-determine the B10 value. I’ve learned from colleagues this week that sometimes the supplier will invest in the evaluation which determines the average B10 value needed. This is the best scenario so far. Another common scenario is that the supplier responds with an answer provided by their legal representative. I will let you determine whether this is good response or not given the overall goal of knowing the related safety performance level? There are probably several other outcomes between these two extremes that you might have experienced as well.

The overarching issue is that critics of EN 954 were uncomfortable with the qualitative approach for hazard identification and mitigation. Thus, ISO 13849-1; 2006 evolved as a quantitative approach to fix this issue and be more absolute with the functional safety design of the safety related electrical control system. Ah, was this goal achieved? Or, will it take more time to achieve this goal as supplier’s ramp up with the additional requirements they must now meet?

In my opinion, it will take more time (recall the two postponements already implemented in Europe) in part for supplier’s to meet these requirements.

What ideas or experiences might you have regarding this issue? Share your experiences and opinions with your colleagues in the comments section below.

Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety.”

Also read:

European safety deadline extended, but don't wait;

EN ISO 13849-1; 2006 - Are We Ready?

Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC & EN ISO 13849-1; 2006 - with comments



For more than 30 years, J.B. Titus has advised a wide range of clients on machine functional safety solutions, including Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, General Motors, Disney, Rockwell Automation, Bridgestone Firestone, and Samsung Heavy Industries. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma University in industrial management and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in marketing and finance. He is a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is OSHA-certified in machine guarding. Titus is also TUV-certified as a Functional Safety Expert and serves on several American National Standards Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association national safety and health standards committees. Reach him at jb(at)jbtitus.com and via www.jbtitus.com.