The beginners guide to machine safety in the UK

5 February 2019

This is not a definitive guide to everything in machine safety and has been simplified from some detail. If you have any doubts please seek expert advice.

After reading this you might enjoy reading more advanced skills and understanding. For example, you could book a machine safety workshop and ask as many questions as you would like and get expert help from an industry professional.

The golden rule.

Safe machines are not an accident. The UK and Europe know this is the case, so have added all different types of directives, law and guidance to make users of machinery and work equipment as safe as possible.

Do not take risks?

Zero risk is not the objective and is impossible to achieve. It is laying down principles to be followed. You decide what risks to take and what to avoid. The law is there to judge if you are/were responsible.


The employer using the machinery in the UK is subject to HSW which means the equipment must be safe to use, operate and maintain. This is creating legal duties to make sure that the machines are safe to operate and maintain and these are continuous so long as the machinery is in use.


This is necessary in order to understand where, when and who it is that CE marking machines is relevant to. In the machinery directive 2006/42/EC there are a few different ways you might become a manufacturer. These are explained in the following:

  • You made
  • You designed and commissioned to be made
  • You imported outside the EEA
  • You modified
  • You integrated into a line

YOU are the manufacturer.

Who are you?

If you’re a sole trader or person (not a limited company) then the duty to CE mark machinery and declare in conformity is yours and only yours.

If you are working for a company then it’s normal for the company to be the manufacturer.

Although a person needs to sign on behalf of the company. We suggest you go to a senior manager with influence and control over all the processes that feed in the evidence that the machine was correctly CE marked. It is a legal document that can expose your company to liabilities so it’s normally an officer of the company.


The EU directives are added in the UK by law. The two documents are very similar for the most part but there are of course some alterations and additions when reading the two side by side. This guide will not go into detail about the differences as they are only considered minor variations. If you were to go on an advanced course they would analyse the differences much closer.


The machine safety standards have many different sources. The EN standards mostly apply during any CE marking of machines but also have relevancy during PUWER inspection.

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