There is a lot going on as we move through the current grace period towards 20 January 2027, when the EU Machinery Regulation fully applies and the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is repealed – and LEEA is heavily involved.

The Machinery Regulation came into force in all EU member states back in July 2023, giving manufacturers time to meet the new safety requirements on plant and machinery. At this stage, with both sets of legislation running concurrently, most will be working to standards conforming to the Machinery Directive, which is fine for now. But in January 2027 everybody is expected to be working to the Machinery Regulation. 

When the regulations were announced it was said they’d be accompanied by new legislation to give market surveillance more powers. We believe market surveillance will get more powers once the Machinery Regulation fully comes into force in 2027 to address compliance issues, though how is not yet clear.

Right now the focus is to have by then an updated suite of standards. There are approximately 200 lifting equipment related standards to examine and standards bodies are working right now on the tricky task of reviewing each and every one as part of a ‘gap analysis’ conducted to establish if standards meet any new requirements in the Machinery Regulation, and where they don’t how they should be revised or amended to comply. Many standards will not have any changes, but there will be quite significant differences in others.

In addition, there are many standards currently under development. These will have to be switched to align with the Machinery Regulations and not the Machinery Directive, so there are likely to be delays occurring in their development.

This is all quite some task and when completed, which the European Commission estimates will be in August this year, then the currently published official Guide to application of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC will be updated to become the Guide to the Machinery Regulation to provide an interpretation for all member states to follow. The guide works well because there isn’t a standard for everything and it’s all too easy to interpret legislation in different ways. As a major stakeholder LEEA has been invited to be involved with updating the guide.

My feeling is this update should be brought forward because there is some confusion over certain standards regarding whether or not the products they cover are within scope of the Machinery Regulation. Reading through the regulations reveals new things all the time that require attention to understand what is required from the new regulations that differs from the Machinery Directive.

While the European Commission is trying to get standards that are aligned and mandated to give the presumption of conformity, the standards bodies clearly have a lot of information to process.

But, when it fully applies in 2027, the Machinery Regulation will eliminate all the different requirements across all of the EU member states, so they all follow the same regulation. Not being a regulation, the Machinery Directive was used as a guide for authorities in individual states, who produced their own regulations based on the minimum requirements – some more stringent than others, thus creating a barrier to trade.

How does this apply to the UK?

After Brexit the UK continued with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) regulations 2008, which implemented the Machinery Directive in the UK. As I understand it, there is no desire yet from the UK to update these regulations, hence the UKCA mark deadline has been extended until 2027, when there’s likely to be a better idea of what’s happening.

At the moment UKCA and CE requirements are exactly the same, but after 2027 this is unlikely to be the case. It’s likely we will have a better indication of what will happen at some point after the 2024 election.

If lifting equipment manufacturers opt for complying with the Machinery Regulations, they will probably meet UK requirements by default, but they will need a paper trail for the technical part of the Supply of Machinery Safety regulations and the Machinery Regulation with UKCA and CE marks.

Irrespective of where you are in Europe, my advice is to continue to follow the standard you are currently working to, but be aware that the standard will be under review and could well be amended, so it is vital to keep up to date on what’s happening with those standards.

Member updates

LEEA is taking the lead in much of this process, getting heavily involved in working groups to ensure it can feed back to members on developments to give ample time and support to make necessary changes – because they are coming.

In my role, I’m involved with every standards body associated with lifting equipment, which means that LEEA members are updated on a frequent basis. The Association produces a monthly standards report, which is circulated to members. It gives news on specific standards, where we are up to and what’s happening with them. It also gives updates on what’s happening with legislation so that if any changes do come to light – they will be in the report.

This means that LEEA members gain a comprehensive heads up on what is happening before it actually happens, giving them time to prepare for coming changes and avoid last minute adaptation to ensure compliance. This is, of course, just one great reason among many to become a member of LEEA, and for end users to look for the LEEA logo as a mark of excellence.