European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

The Evaluation Of The Machinery Directive

What’s next for Trade Unions ?

The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC was published on 9 June 2006 and became applicable on 29 December 2009. It defines target levels of protection primarily in terms of basic principles, which therefore require to be interpreted and given concrete form: in this sense, the directive combines mandatory health and safety requirements and voluntary harmonised standards.

When in 2016 the European Commission launched the assessment of the performance of the machinery directive, as part of the REFIT programme, there was no doubt that the initiative was timely and necessary, one of the reasons being that no studies have been carried out so far on the effectiveness of this piece of legislation having a direct impact on the health and safety of a very large number of workers across Europe.

Today the report presenting the evaluation of the machinery directive is publicly available. It includes findings on whether the directive is still fit for purpose and several reflections and recommendations on areas or aspects to be improved.

ETUI has been heavily involved in this initiative and it is now ready to play an active role in the next steps ahead. The report will be used by the European Commission as the starting point for a report (in the form of Staff Working Document), expected to be released by the first quarter of 2018. At that time a decision will be taken on how to move forward: if a revision of the directive will be decided, a transparent procedure of consultation will be launched as part of an Impact Assessment that could likely begin at the end of 2018. This could be followed by a Commission Proposal on a revised directive two years later.

This means that in the next two-three years Trade Unions across Europe can make their voice heard on two main priorities, among others: 1) new machines put on the European market need to anticipate and design out as many potential health and safety hazards as possible, and 2) market surveillance must ensure adequate number and frequency of machinery inspections by means of improved cross-border cooperation and sufficient technical and financial resources.

ETUI puts at the disposal of trade unions interested in the possible revision of the machinery directive and in promoting safer machinery, the observation seat at the Machinery Working Group chaired by the European Commission and the network of experts active in the ADCO and MACHEX groups.