Machinery Safety 101

Brexit's impact

The UK Conservative Party win last week has finally drawn an end to the ongoing uncertainty created by the Brexit referendum and the dithering that followed the UK Parliament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared that the UK will exit by the end of January 2020. For non-EU manufacturers of machinery, what impact will this have on their business? All third-country manufacturers are required to have an EU-headquartered Authorised Representative. If your Authorised Representative is UK based, you have a problem.

Authorised Representatives

Besides the uncertainty that still exists about product safety marks for the UK following Brexit, the one point that is resolved relates to the use of Authorized Representatives. While not spelled out explicitly, the 2006/42/EC Machinery Directive requires third-country manufacturers to use an Authorized Representative. Most North American machine builders select an Authorized Representative in a country that speaks either English or French and many have selected companies located in the UK for English speaking services.

An Authorized Representative is a natural person or an organization that offers certain specific legal services, including holding a copy of the technical file for machines sold in the EU by your company. An Authorized Representative must be headquartered in an EU Member State according to EU law, and this is where Brexit is going to throw a wrench into many manufacturer’s New Year.

EU Headquarters

With the UK’s exit from the EU in January, contracts with Authorized Representatives headquartered in the UK will become invalid unless the Authorized Representative has moved their headquarters into one of the EU27 countries. Many Authorized Representatives have moved their headquarters to Ireland, maintaining their ability to offer English services while staying within the EU.

If you use a company in the UK for Authorized Representative services, now is the time to call them. Ask if they have moved their headquarters, or how they intend to maintain their service to you. If they have not moved their headquarters to another EU member state, then it’s time to end that relationship and start a new one with an organization that is headquartered in the EU.

Previous Sales

For equipment previously sold into the EU with an Authorized Representative located in the UK, you have some options. The first is to ensure that the previous Authorized Representative has the new organization’s contact information. Next, you should create a bulleting or an advisory letter that is sent to all customers, advising them of the change and providing the new Authorized Representative’s contact information. This information should also be posted on your website wherever CE Marked product is shown. Finally, create a new label or nameplate that can be put on your products in the field that shows the new Authorized Representative’s contact information, and provides a starting date:

Example

As of 2020-01-31, the Authorized Representative for ABC Machinery Co. Ltd. in the EU is:

ACME Authorized Representative Services Co.
123 Ailesbury Road,
Dublin 4, Ireland
+353 1 123-4567
https://www.acme-auth.co.ie

A label like that above could then be provided to customers with instructions for placement on existing machines.

If you don’t currently have an Authorized Representative, excellent guidance on what to look for can be found in the EU “Blue Guide”. If you need more help, please get in touch.

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