Instructions are one of the basic items that users expect to get when they purchase a product, and yet these important documents are often poorly written, badly translated, and incomplete. Key product features are badly described, and information on features, settings and hazards may be absent. All of this despite the fact that the minimum requirements for instruction manuals have been defined in the machinery standards since at least the early 1990’s. A way to avoid creating poor manuals was needed.
Because information for use is part of the Hierarchy of Controls, ISO 12100 and other standards have provided general guidance on the content of machinery manuals, but never on the design of the manual itself. ISO and IEC created a joint project to develop a common standard for manuals and instructions for use. Members from ISO/TC 10, Technical drawings, product definitions and related documentation and IEC/TC 3, Documentation and graphical symbols worked on creating IEC 62079.
In 2001, IEC published IEC 62079, Preparation of instructions – Structuring, content and presentation. This standard was the beginning of the efforts to create a common design requirement for the instructions provided by product manufacturers to users. IEC 62079 was withdrawn and republished as IEC 82079 – 1, Preparation of instructions for use – Structuring, content and presentation – Part 1: General principles and detailed requirements. The second edition of this standard was published in 2019.
In 2014, ISO/TC 199 started work on a standard focused on the needs of machine builders and users. The origin of this standard comes from Europe, with consideration of the EU Machinery Directive, EN 415 – 3, ISO 10218, and a seed document from the Netherlands. The resulting standard, ISO 20607, Safety of machinery — Instruction handbook — General drafting principles has just completed the final stage of review (FDIS) and is in the process of publication. The document is scheduled for publication in June 2019.
What’s in ISO 20607?
Since you are reading this post, you will want to know what this new standard is about. Unfortunately, I can’t give you too much information about the content of the standard due to confidentiality obligations placed on expert members by ISO, but I can tell you a little bit about what’s inside. Let’s have a look at the scope of the document.
This document specifies requirements for the machine manufacturer for preparation of the safety-relevant parts of an instruction handbook for machinery.
— provides further specifications to the general requirements on information for use given in ISO 12100:2010, 6.4.5; and
— deals with the safety-related content, the corresponding structure and presentation of the instruction handbook, taking into account all phases of the life cycle of the machine.
NOTE 1 The strategy for risk reduction at the machine is given in ISO 12100:2010, Clause 6, and includes inherently safe design measures, safeguarding and complementary risk reduction measures as well as information for use.
NOTE 2 Annex A contains a correspondence table between ISO 12100:2010, 6.4, and this document.
NOTE 3 Information for conception and preparation of instructions in general is available in IEC/IEEE 82079 – 1.
This document establishes the principles which are indispensable to provide information on residual risks.
This document does not address requirements for declaration of noise and vibration emissions.
This document is not applicable to machinery manufactured before the date of its publication.
As you can see, the standard builds upon ISO 12100 and IEC 82079 – 1, with the focus on machinery.
Table of Contents
Here’s the Table of Contents. I’m leaving out the Scope, Normative References and Terms and Definitions, as those appear in every standard.
4 Principles and general information
4.2 Target group for the instruction handbook
4.3 Information needs
4.4 Comprehensible terminology and wording
4.5 Presentation of the instruction handbook
4.6 Information from component or subsystem suppliers
4.8 Warnings, hazard and safety symbols used in the instruction handbook
4.10 Residual risks
4.10.2 Signals and warning devices provided with the machine
4.11 IT security vulnerabilities
5 Content and structure of the instruction handbook
5.2 Instruction handbook content
5.2.1 Basic parts of an introduction handbook
5.2.3 Machine overview
5.2.4 Transportation, handling and storage
5.2.5 Assembly, installation and commissioning
5.2.6 Original equipment manufacturer settings
5.2.8 Product or capacity changeover
5.2.9 Inspection, testing and maintenance
5.2.10 Cleaning and sanitizing
5.2.11 Fault finding/troubleshooting and repair
5.2.12 Dismantling, disabling and scrapping
5.2.13 Documents and drawings
6 Language and formulation/style guide
6.2 Language version(s)
6.3 Formulation guidance for instructions
6.4 Simple wording for instructions
7 Forms of publication
Annex A (informative) Correspondence between ISO 12100:2010, 6.4, and this document
Annex B (informative) Presentation and formatting
Annex C (informative) Recommendations for writing instructions
Annex ZA (informative) Relationship between this European Standard and the essential requirements of Directive 2006/42/EC aimed to be covered
As you can see, the standard covers the design and content of machinery manuals quite thoroughly. If you are a technical writer or manage the technical writing department for a machine builder, you should be using this standard. There are some additional technical writing standards that you could consider, like ANSI Z535.6, American National Standard for Product Safety Information in Product Manuals, Instructions, and Other Collateral Materials, (Download ANSI standards) which provides excellent guidance on integrating hazard warnings into instructions, and of course, the requirements of the relevant type C standard for your product.
If you’ve got questions or would like more information on ISO 20607, please get in touch. You can leave a comment below or email me.