Laws and standards in Europe


Various directives apply within the European Union; these must be incorporated into domestic law by the individual member states.

One common feature of many directives is that products that fall under the scope of these directives have mandatory CE marking.

Non-EU countries sometimes have differing laws and directives.

Relationship between directives, laws and standards in Europe

The directives are addressed to EU member states, who are obliged to incorporate the European directives into domestic law. In Germany for example this is incorporated via the Product Safety Act (ProdSG).

Standards are not legally binding and merely represent the state of the science and technology at the time of publication. Standards may not be applied in an EU conformity assessment procedure until they are harmonised with an EU directive through publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Satisfying the requirements leads to "presumption of conformity". This presumption of conformity says that a manufacturer can assume that when the standard is implemented correctly, the essential health and safety requirements of the EU directive defined in the standard's Annex are met.

If a manufacturer applies European directives and the relevant harmonised standards correctly, the burden of proof shall be reversed in terms of product liability. This means that in the event of an accident or fatality, the market surveillance authorities (in Germany the factory inspectorate) or the public prosecutor's office must prove to the manufacturer that directives and harmonised standards have not been considered and implemented correctly.

Machinery Directive

When the Machinery Directive (MD) was ratified in 1993, the aim was to remove trade barriers and enable a free internal market within Europe. After a two-year transition period, the Machinery Directive has been binding in Europe since 01.01.1995. It describes standardised health and safety requirements for interaction between man and machine and replaces the host of individual state regulations that existed on machinery safety. The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC has applied since 29.12.2009.

Mandatory CE marking

There is mandatory CE marking for products that fall under one or more of the directives below. These products must also be accompanied by a declaration of conformity.

With a declaration of conformity, which is legally binding, the manufacturer confirms that his product meets all the requirements of the European directives that relate to his product. This means he can launch and sell his product within the scope of the EU, currently 27 states including Switzerland, Norway and Turkey, without consideration of any national provisions.

Declarations of conformity for Pilz products are available in our download area.

Examples of EU directives with mandatory CE marking

Great Britain

In Great Britain, a specific work equipment directive applies: Provision and Use of Work Equipement Regulations (PUWER).

These regulations cover all work equipment that staff use during the course of their work - from a hammer to mechanical presses and motor vehicles. The "use" of work equipment also covers maintenance, cleaning, transportation or commissioning of the work equipment.

PUWER not only requires that appropriate work equipment is provided and maintained correctly, but also that risks resulting from use of the work equipment must be prevented in advance.


What is PUWER?

The "Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations" (PUWER) were created within the scope of the "Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974" (HSW Act) and came into force on 5 December 1998. The main objective of PUWER is to guarantee the provision of safe work equipment over the whole service life, irrespective of its state, age or origin.

Who is responsible?

Each employer is obliged to assess the risks to the health and safety of people in their workplace. The regulations not only require that employers provide appropriate, safe work equipment and machinery, but also that they consider the work conditions and risks for the health and safety of staff, including the provision of appropriate training.

What does PUWER cover?

PUWER applies for the provision and use of all work equipment and machinery, including mobile equipment and hoists - in short, everything from a tool to a standalone machine and assembly plant.

Further information:


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Telephone: +1 905 821 7459

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