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.


CE mark, European UnionMachine 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.”


The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me