For many years, we in the health and safety world have realised that CE marking means no more than ‘check everything’. This was clearly demonstrated to us in February when asked by a company to look at the safety compliance of a new machine purchased from Austria.
This company had invested £3.6 million in a bespoke machine that had been CE marked but had concerned our client that not all safety issues had been properly thought out. When they challenged the supplier, the supplier disagreed that they had provided a machine that was unsafe to operate and considered that they had met the required of the supply of machinery directive.
We were asked to look at this independently and provide candid feedback on whether the machine did or did not meet the directive and to determine if any safety issues were required to be addressed to ensure compliance with UK legislation.
What we found was quite shocking that a supplier could have handed this over and then argued they had met their brief. Our assessment found many parts of the machine were either just not guarded or were guarded badly and that to operate the machine operators would be expected to climb onto parts of the machine whilst it was running. It seems a basic omission that safe access points were not designed in – particularly given the cost of the machine.
From the front to the back of this very large machine there were a whole host of non-Compliance issues with both the Machinery directive and the PUWER regulations. This report confirmed what the client had been arguing and has supported the case that the supplier needs to come back and fix these failings.
Is this something you would do when purchasing new equipment or would you just take the CE mark at face value and assume it was safe? A key thing to remember is that if the machine is in your workplace it is your responsibility to ensure it is safe to operate. It would be no defence in court to argue that it was the suppliers fault and not yours if something was to go wrong.