European Commission revises statement regarding machinery directive standards


Dec 08, 2009

Prior communications from the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) had indicated that the European Commission would extend EN 954-1 such that it could continue to be used in parallel with EN ISO 13849-1 to support compliance with the European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC for an additional three years, facilitating the ultimate transition to the new standard. The European Commission has now reconsidered this matter and a final decision on whether or not to extend the presumption of conformity of EN 954-1 past Dec. 29, 2009 will be taken after the Machinery Working Group meeting on Dec. 7-8, 2009.

EN 954-1, the main standard for the design of safety-related control systems in the "machinery safety" sector, has traditionally been followed for presumption of conformity to European Machinery Directive 98/37/EC. New standards EN ISO 13849-1 or EN/IEC 62061 — which provide for use of more advanced safety-control systems technologies — are scheduled to replace EN 954-1 on Dec 29, 2009, making the new control-system standards the only ones accepted under the new European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. This change has been widely anticipated since EN ISO 13849-1 was published in 2006.

Though many machine builders and control-system suppliers have invested significant time and money in preparing to follow the new standards, others have found it difficult to prepare for the change. Therefore, some have requested that the deadline for withdrawal of the presumption of conformity for EN 954-1 be extended. This would mean that machine builders could use either EN ISO 13849-1 or continue using the older EN 954-1 until the new deadline.

In any case, with the complete withdrawal of EN 954-1 being inevitable, use of EN 954-1 alone will become problematic. That’s because EN 954-1 is not specifically suitable for more advanced technologies commonly used today in machine-control applications and safety products. Additionally, many machine-specific C-type EN standards already call for the use of EN ISO 13849-1 or EN 62061, with no reference to EN 954-1.

Even if the deadline were to be extended, working to EN 954-1 would increasingly be seen as “second class.” The opportunities provided by functional safety standards to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability — while reducing development and operational costs — means that machine builders who adopt these technologies early will move ahead of the competition.