The Machinery Directive (Directive No. 2006/42/EC) was published on 9 June 2006 and came into force on 29 December 2009. It sets a target level of protection primarily founded on basic principles, which then need to be interpreted and given concrete form, and in doing so, brings together mandatory health and safety requirements and voluntary harmonised standards.

When the European Commission launched an assessment of the implementation of the Machinery Directive as part of the REFIT programme in 2016, it was clear that this was a necessary initiative that came just at the right time, one of the reasons being that until then no research had been conducted into the effectiveness of this piece of legislation with its direct impact on the health and safety of many workers across Europe.

ETUI has been very much involved in all this and is now set to play an active role in what happens next.

The report (in the form of a Staff Working Document) presenting the Commission's evaluation of the Machinery Directive was published in May 2018, with the findings including an assessment of whether the Directive is still fit for purpose and a series of viewpoints and recommendations on areas or aspects for improvement.

An external consultant is currently finalizing an Impact Assessment report that will soon be published. The Commission aims at presenting a proposal for revision of the Machinery Directive by the end of 2020.

Trade unions across Europe have been able to express their opinions on various matters, including two main priorities, namely: (1) the need to anticipate as many potential health and safety hazards as possible in new machinery placed on the European market and to eliminate these from its design, and (2) the need for market surveillance to ensure an adequate level (in terms of both number and frequency) of machinery inspections, involving enhanced cross-border cooperation and appropriate technical and financial resources.

In its activity inside the Machinery Working Group chaired by the European Commission, ETUI benefits from the technical support of Phil Papard, OBE. Phil is a former Principal Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), where he managed the HSE’s Safety Unit and was responsible for policy and operation of market surveillance of industrial goods. Mr. Papard negotiated for UK (with Ministry) in the Council Working Group for the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC; he was also Member and President of the Machinery ADCO and the SLIC MACHEX Group.

What’s next for Trade Unions ?