To aid the process of removing the technical barriers to the free movement of trade across Europe, it was decided that standards should be harmonised for the European market. The New Approach Directives all have their own, relevant set of standards which can be used as a guideline when dealing with the conformity assessment. Standards do not have legal standing and you are not required to use them, however if you do use standards as part of your conformity assessment to the requirements of a Directive, you can presume conformity.

Example: The Machinery Directive

Using the Machinery Directive as an example, there are in excess of 300 standards that have been harmonised to the Directive. This means that they contain information which is pertinent to conformity assessment to the Machinery Directive and can be used to s how compliance with the Essential Health and Safety requirements of the Directive.

Specifically for the Machinery Directive, standards are split into 4 different types: A, B1, B2 and C. A type standards apply to all machines and look at general principles. Currently there are only 2 A type standards, EN ISO 12100 Safety of Machinery General Principles for design. Risk Assessment and Risk reduction and EN 414 Safety of Machinery Rules for the drafting and presentation of safety standards.

B1 standards cover key aspects of machinery such as: electrics, EN 60204-1 Safety of Machinery Electrical equipment of machines General Requirements; and safety controls en ISO 13849-1 Safety of Machinery Safety related parts of control systems General principles for design.

B2 standards are known as “apply when used” and deal with specific requirements such as interlocks, EN 1088 Safety of Machinery Interlocking devices associated with guards Principles for design and selection; and light curtains EN ISO 13855 Safety of machinery. Positioning of safeguards with respect to the approach speeds of parts of the human body. Not all machinery will use these types of devices, hence they only apply when used.

Finally, C Type standards relate to specific machine types. For example robots, EN ISO 10218-1, packaging machines EN 415 series and continuous handling equipment EN 619.

European Standards are harmonised by either CEN (Committee for European Normalisation) or CENELEC (European Committee for Electro-technical Standardisation.

Additional Standards Information

Complete list of standards harmonised to the various CE Marking Directives:

The Official Journal European standards - List of references of harmonised standards

To purchase standards in the UK:

BSI Group

SAI Global

For international standards:


For information regarding the harmonising process:



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