Machine Safety: Does a CE mark make a machine safe?

Machine safety discussions have risen to new heights with the advent of improved technology and the availability of Internet communication. Beware: pay attention to the details. An EU (European Union) discussion may not fully apply here in the U.S.

By JB Titus July 25, 2014

Machine safety discussions have risen to new heights with improved computing technology and Internet communications. Pay attention to the details so you draw the appropriate conclusions. An EU (European Union) discussion may not fully apply here in the U.S.

Various forum groups discuss on the Internet include threads of discussions on questions and issues facing machine safety on a daily basis, including CE mark applicability to machine safety.

What does it mean to you when a new machine has a CE mark?

When there is such a discussion, it’s important to try to discover where in the world discussion participants are located. Secondly, scan the discussion for key word references like; OSHA, EU, MD (Machinery Directive), ISO, IEC, ANSI, and NFPA. I’m sure you get the drift. Thirdly, look for competencies like: engineer, safety specialist, consultant, organization, EH&S, and so forth. All of these things matter and are of great importance to the applicability of the discussion.

A recent a forum thread on the CE Mark included comments about an appropriate safety system for the newly installed machine. My demographic discovery revealed that the question originated in the EU, the commenters had an engineering background, the regulatory authority was the Machine Directive, and comments were based around interpretations of the MD, international standards and CE requirements for a machine safety system. What was missing was any notion of a risk assessment and the inherent hazard mitigation remediation. Understanding that missing link is key to drawing any conclusions for answering the highlighted question.

If I’m located in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) I can understand the forum discussion in conjunction with my own “know how” and demographic discovery. I can then draw some appropriate conclusions. For example, the CE mark is not an important issue in the U.S. for compliance. However, I do realize that my required risk assessment of the installed machine will likely be somewhat easier because of the requirements that must be met by a European original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to claim the CE mark. Secondly, my installed machine risk assessment is designed to identify any additional hazards resulting from the installation of an “out-of-the-box” uninstalled machine. Therefore, the CE mark on a machine does not tell me that the installed machine is safe in Cincinnati. In fact, an installed machine risk assessment is also required in the EU.

Has this Internet machine safety discussion detective work raised any question? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

Related articles:

Machine Safety: Design a safer machine with risk assessments

Updating Minds About Machine Safety

Machine Safety – safe enough versus compliance, 8 compliance best practices!

Machine Safety – consequences of not performing risk assessments!

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety.”