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The CE Mark – what does it really mean?

CE stands for the French phrase "Conformité Européene" which literally means "European Conformity" (catching on yet?).

CE is a mandatory mark for certain product groups in order for them to be sold on the European market – specifically into the EU. The requirements are set out in European Directives (similar to Australia’s Regulations and Acts) that cover health, safety and environmental protection legislation.

The CE mark itself is defined in Directive 93/68/EEC, "Rules for the Affixing and Use of the CE Conformity Marking" which takes in a host of other Directives, such as

  • 73/23/EEC - Low Voltage (replaced by 2006/95/EC)
  •  89/336/EEC - Electromagnetic Compatibility EMC (replaced by 2004/108/EC)
  • 2006/42/EC - Machinery Directive (including safety)
  •  89/686/EEC - Personal Protection Equipment; and many more.

So, focusing on Machinery, in order for a machine to be sold into the EU the machine must usually satisfy the EMC, Machinery Directive and Low Voltage directives.

Selling into Australia/New Zealand

A machine built in Europe will generally be built with CE certification in mind. If, however, it is sold outside the EU, where the CE mark is not a legal requirement, any "special” equipment that was used to obtain that CE marking may possibly be removed, in order to reduce the cost and compete with machines manufactured outside the EU. Generally the first items to be removed are for machine safety (Europe is extremely strict on machine safety compared to the rest of the world).

Australian State regulations require that an Importer of machinery "must ensure that the hazard identification, risk assessment and control of risk measures have been carried out in relation to the design and manufacture of the plant before the plant leaves the control of the importer” (Victorian Occupational Health and Safety (Plant) Regulations 1995). The same applies to Suppliers.

The state regulations apply no matter whether there is a CE mark on the machine or not! 

Applying a CE mark

There are essentially five steps to compliance in order to be able to affix the CE mark to your plant/machine etc. in order to sell into the European Union:

  • Risk assessment
  • Meet Essential Health & Safety Requirements as per the relevant directives
  • Technical Construction File
  • Declaration of Conformity
  • CE Mark

Pilz Consulting offers Risk Assessment and CE Marking services. For more information please contact us to arrange an obligation free pre-assessment and quote.