Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 explained

Manufacturers and suppliers of workplace machinery must comply with The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 which contain detailed requirements for manufacturing safe new machinery. 

Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a duty on manufacturers to design and construct machinery so that it can be used safely. Suppliers must meet the requirements of section 6 for all types of workplace machinery whether it is new or second-hand.

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (the Regulations) impose additional obligations on the manufacturers of new machinery to meet stringent safety requirements.

When do the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 apply?

The Regulations apply to all new machinery manufactured for sale or service in the UK. "Machinery" is broadly defined and includes:

  • Any machinery that is powered other than by manual effort
  • Safety components such as guards that may be sold separately 
  • Components that only work when attached to a machine
  • Lifting equipment and accessories
  • Chains, ropes and webbing.

There are some types of machinery which are not covered by the Regulations. This includes specialist machinery for the nuclear and mining industries and certain low voltage machinery such as ordinary office equipment.

What do the Regulations require?

The primary requirement is that manufacturers make machinery safe for use. Specifically, manufacturers must ensure that:

  • Machinery is thoroughly tested and meets all relevant health and safety requirements as listed in the Regulations
  • A technical file is prepared for the machinery
  • In certain cases, the machinery is assessed by the relevant quality control body
  • The machinery is issued with a Declaration of Conformity
  • There is CE marking affixed to the machinery showing that relevant legal requirements have been met.

When purchasing new machinery, employers must select only the machinery that complies with the Regulations. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the Declaration of Conformity and CE marking may be taken as evidence of compliance.    

What about second hand or refurbished machines?  

The Regulations only apply to new machinery that was put into use after 1995. Older machinery does not need to comply with the Regulations.

The only exception is if machinery has been transformed or substantially rebuilt to the extent that it can be considered as new. For example, modifying a lifting machine so that it can lift a significantly greater load is a substantial refurbishment. The Regulations will apply to the machinery in its transformed state.

Even if the Regulations do not apply, manufacturers and suppliers must still meet the requirements in section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However, they will not have to create a technical file, issue a Declaration of Conformity or affix a CE marking to the machinery.

What if a worker is injured by unsafe machinery?

A worker who has suffered injury as a result of unsafe machinery may be eligible to make a  claim for compensation against the manufacturer of the machinery or their employer. This is not a direct claim under the Regulations. Instead, the worker would file a personal injury claim and demonstrate that the machinery was not designed and constructed so that it could be used safely.

When assessing the claim, the Courts would look at the Regulations as a guide for deciding whether there has been a breach of legal duty.

Where machinery is found to be unsafe in breach of the Regulations, the Health and Safety Executive has the power to withdraw the machinery from the market. Offenders may be prosecuted and, if convicted, may face a range of penalties including fines and imprisonment.