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October 4, 2009

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Legislation- More time for machine-builders to comply with new standard

Widespread concerns over the application of the new machinery safety standard have prompted the European Commission to delay its enforcement deadline.

EN ISO 13849-1:2008 Safety of machinery: safety-related parts of control systems – general principles for design, which is replacing EN 954-1, provides safety requirements and guidance on the principles for the design and integration of safety-related parts of control systems (SRP/CS), including the design of software. It also places duties on those who operate machinery in a production-line environment to assess the reliability of key safety components and validate the system design against the risk assessment.

It was due to be implemented before the end of this year but the ‘transition period’, during which machine and control-system builders could continue to work to the old standard, has now been extended until 31 December 2012, thus giving machine-builders and other duty-holders more time to prepare.

Industrial and safety compliance consultants Laidler Associates welcomed the announcement. Said managing director, Paul Laidler: “For most control-system and machine builders, this is very good news, since it gives time for the work needed to underpin the new EN 13849-1 standard to be carried out carefully and thoroughly. Nevertheless, retaining EN 954-1 does have its downside, as there are many areas that this standard doesn’t cover – including, for example, programmable safety equipment, which simply didn’t exist when it was formulated.

“For this reason, control-system and machine builders must be careful about placing too much reliance on EN 954-1 as a way of demonstrating that they have fully met their obligations in relation to control-system safety.”

Information relating to the delay is due to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (listed under Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC) in October/November.

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