View Idea

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992.

Reference ID:

Department Responsible:
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Problem Description:
The constructional steelwork industry has for many years designed and manufactured lifting brackets that are attached (bolted) to constructional steelwork to assist in lifting and positioning the steelwork during construction. These brackets are manufactured for use by the steelwork company only and can be batch tested by an authorised lifting equipment supplier to ensure the design safety factor is sufficient for the intended use.

The lifting brackets are manufactured in accordance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and are then given an initial test as described above, before the lifting brackets are included in the company safety management system for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) which introduced regular (6 monthly) inspections to ensure the brackets are not damaged or worn to such a degree that they need to be taken out of service usually destroyed.

The constructional steelwork industry has invested significant funds to improve the safety record through better working practices and procedures and the greater use of multi-functioning machines in the steelwork factories that saw and drill steelwork, which has resulted in better planning and made it easier to introduce additional holes in the steelwork that are specific for lifting brackets to be used, this ensures the safety of lifting operations on site is maintained and are quicker as the centre of gravity has already been calculated and the time spent attaching the load to the crane is reduced.

Some aspects of constructional steelwork can be classed as specialist such as bridgework where the steelwork can be larger than usual or be complex in shape, in such circumstances lifting frames may need to be designed to ensure the section is lifted and positioned safely. These frames may only be used once or on one project before they are dismantled. Again the frames will be subject to designer criteria with sufficient safety factors built in.

The HSE has contacted the BCSA and stated that under The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 the lifting brackets are lifting accessories and should be CE Marked by the manufacturers.

The steelwork industry see no benefit to the introduction of another Regulation that will bring complication and over burdensome administration to the industry, bringing no advantage in safety or quality of the product as these aspects are already in place through existing Regulations such as PUWER and LOLER.

If the CE Marking of these brackets is made mandatory within the constructional steelwork industry then additional resources will need to be employed by the companies that are mostly SME’s as the Technical Construction Files (TCF) prepared by the designers will need to be verified by an external authorised body (e.g. BSI) and then become a certified body to manufacture the brackets to apply CE Marking. It is envisaged that most companies will stop using the brackets and return to other lifting practices such as wrapping the chains around the steelwork known as a choke hitch.

This problem is caused by conflicting regulations or guidance.

Proposed solution:
Apply the existing requirements of the PUWER and LOLER Regulations and the HSE and BCSA can produce an industry guide on the Technical Construction File and support information required.

Cost or time incurred:
As mentioned above the use of lifting brackets can bring benefits to construction site activities and reduce on site lifting time with no detrimental effect on safety.
Quality of the finished paintwork is maintained with the use of brackets as the lifting chains are not wrapped around the steelwork.
The cost of becoming a certified manufacturer could be in the thousands as the additional administration will be required.

Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Private Sector

Business and industry

Official response

Machinery Directive - Constructional Steelwork Industry Query on the interpretation of Directive 98/37/EC

This query concerned the application of the EU Machinery Directive (98/37/EC) in the UK – the relevant local legislation is the Supply of Machinery Safety Regulations 1992’ (SMSR). BERR is the so-called ‘competent authority’ for this directive, that is to say it is responsible to the European Commission for achieving the directive’s purpose of a Single Market throughout the EU for the products covered by its scope. This is achieved in practice by reaching common interpretations of the essential safety requirements laid down by the directive.

However BERR is not responsible for enforcing the provisions of the directive in the UK in the first instance. For the sort of capital goods concerned here this is the Health and Safety Executive and so BERR took advice from HSE in preparing this response. Where the interpretations ‘on the ground’ by HSE, or, for that matter, by any of the other enforcement authorities in the various EU Member States, are such that they threaten to disrupt the Single Market, BERR can, in its capacity as UK lead on the European management committee for the directive (known as the Machinery Working Group), bring these to light and then strive to achieve consistent interpretations. The subject of how precisely to define the directive’s concept of a ‘lifting accessory’, and what are the implications arising from this, have been discussed in this context as described below.

Lifting Accessories

Lifting accessories are included in the scope of the SMSR by virtue of Essential Health and Safety Requirements 4.1.1;;; and 4.3.2. listed in Schedule 3.

A guidance document on the treatment of lifting accessories has been produced by the EU Machinery Working Group and agreed by all Member States including BERR acting on behalf of the UK and advised by HSE. If HSE had believed the interpretation was wrong or represented an unacceptable burden on business it would have sought a remedy through BERR. The full text of the guidance document is available on request.

HSE was concerned that the guidance document was sensible and enforceable and to ensure that the CE marking provision only applies to brackets independently placed on the market, and not to brackets made by the manufacturers of the item to be lifted, such as constructional steelwork.

HSE believes that the implications of the document to this case are as follows. HSE will expect brackets placed independently on the market for use by constructional steelwork companies, to be CE marked under the SMSR. However, HSE accept that if they are already being made to the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and a file containing details of their design is kept, they will meet the requirements of the SMSRs. This is on condition that the items are then marked, including the safe working load and the CE mark, by the manufacturer who should also issue a Declaration of Conformity. For this type of lifting accessory there is no requirement for third party assessment in the SMSR and HSE do not expect any involvement of a notified body or other third party in this process.

HSE will take a pragmatic approach to enforcing the SMSR in this area, the main concern being the safety of the lifting arrangements – any breach of the regulations purely on “paperwork” grounds will be dealt with by discussion, and advice to resolve the problem.

Finally it should be noted that the base directive has recently been overhauled and a new Machinery directive adopted in its place (2006/42/EC). However this new directive does not come into force until the very end of 2009 and, in any case, does not materially change the definition of lifting accessories although it does try to make the provisions that relate to them clearer.

The present problem has therefore arisen not out of new regulation but on developing interpretation of long established regulation. The interpretation is defended by HSE above in its own right and the process generally also contributes to making the EU Single Market work properly.