Is my wheelbarrow a Machine?
A small case study into the applicability of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC
During the inception phase of a new product, it’s good practice to check what regulatory framework is applicable to it. In the EU there are several dozen Directives and Regulations which could be applicable to your new product. In this article we will explore when the Machinery Directive (which we will abbreviate MD in the following) is applicable to a product and when it isn’t. And we do this in the context of a wheelbarrow.
For the purpose of this case study we shall think of a wheelbarrow as a small hand-propelled vehicle, designed to be pushed and guided by a single person using two handles at the rear. It is designed to distribute the weight of its load between the wheel and the operator. It is intended to be used for gardening and on construction sites.
The first article of the MD defines its scope. The first paragraph mentions 7 product categories that are covered by MD. The second paragraph names 12 that are excluded. Let’s have a closer look;
The 7 inclusive products are;
All the 7 categories are also part of Article 2 which provides definitions for these categories.
The first of which, Machinery, is defined by 5 bullet points;
— an assembly, fitted with or intended to be fitted with a drive system other than directly applied human or animal effort, consisting of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, and which are joined together for a specific application,
— an assembly referred to in the first indent, missing only the components to connect it on site or to sources of energy and motion,
— an assembly referred to in the first and second in dents, ready to be installed and able to function as it stands only if mounted on a means of transport, or installed in a building or a structure,
— assemblies of machinery referred to in the first, second and third indents or partly completed machinery referred to in point (g) which, in order to achieve the same end, are arranged and controlled so that they function as an integral whole,
— an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves and which are joined together, intended for lifting loads and whose only power source is directly applied human effort;
The wheelbarrow can be seen as an assembly consisting of linked parts or components of which at least one moves, and which are joined together for a specific application. But it has no drive system. It is intended to be propelled by a human operator. So in the sense of the first bullet point the wheelbarrow is not Machinery.
The second, third and fourth bullet points are not relevant to the wheelbarrow. It doesn’t require components for connection to an energy source (second bullet). The wheelbarrow doesn’t require mounting on a means of transport, or installation in a building or structure (third bullet).
The last bullet however is relevant. As the wheelbarrow is intended to lift and carry loads. And to the contrary of the first bullet, a power source of a human applied effort is included. Therefore, by virtue of this fifth bullet, the wheelbarrow fits within the definition of Machinery. This is an exception to the general rule that manually powered machinery is excluded from the Machinery Directive. Manually powered products intended to lift loads are subject to the Machinery Directive.
With the wheelbarrow fitting in the definition of Machinery, we don’t need to investigate the other 6 inclusive categories. The other categories have also definitions in Article 2 which can be checked against in a similar manner.
Next we need to check if the wheelbarrow is excluded of the MD scope by any of the mentioned categories in paragraph 2 of Article 1.
The following are excluded from the scope of this Directive:
(a) safety components intended to be used as spare parts to replace identical components and supplied by the manufacturer of the original machinery;
(b) specific equipment for use in fairgrounds and/or amusement parks;
(c) machinery specially designed or put into service for nuclear purposes which, in the event of failure, may result in an emission of radioactivity;
(d) weapons, including firearms;
(e) the following means of transport:
— agricultural and forestry tractors for the risks covered by Directive 2003/37/EC, with the exclusion of machinery mounted on these vehicles,
— motor vehicles and their trailers covered by Council Directive 70/156/EEC of 6 February 1970 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of motor vehicles and their trailers (1), with the exclusion of machinery mounted on these vehicles,
— vehicles covered by Directive 2002/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 March 2002 relating to the type-approval of two or three-wheel motor vehicles (2), with the exclusion of machinery mounted on these vehicles,
— motor vehicles exclusively intended for competition, and
— means of transport by air, on water and on rail networks with the exclusion of machinery mounted on these means of transport;
(f) seagoing vessels and mobile offshore units and machinery installed on board such vessels and/or units;
(g) machinery specially designed and constructed for military or police purposes;
(h) machinery specially designed and constructed for research purposes for temporary use in laboratories;
(i) mine winding gear;
(j) machinery intended to move performers during artistic performances;
(k) electrical and electronic products falling within the following areas, insofar as they are covered by Council Directive 73/23/EEC of 19 February 1973 on the harmonisation of the laws of Member States relating to electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits (3):
— household appliances intended for domestic use,
— audio and video equipment,
— information technology equipment,
— ordinary office machinery,
— low-voltage switchgear and control gear,
— electric motors;
(l) the following types of high-voltage electrical equipment:
— switch gear and control gear,
(1) OJ L 42, 23.2.1970, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 2006/28/EC (OJ L 65, 7.3.2006, p. 27). (2) OJ L 124, 9.5.2002, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 2005/30/EC (OJ L 106, 27.4.2005, p. 17). (3) OJ L 77, 26.3.1973, p. 29. Directive as amended by Directive 93/68/EEC (OJ L 220, 30.8.1993, p. 1)
The wheel barrow is not intended to be a spare part of other machinery. It is also not specifically intended for use on fairground or an amusement park though it could be used by employees thereof for various purposes. It is also not intended for nuclear purposes. It is also not intended to be a weapon.
It is however a small vehicle, but not a motor vehicle or an agricultural or a forestry tractor. And it is not intended to be mounted on or installed in such vehicles. Means of transport by air, on water or on rail networks is also not applicable to the wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow is also not a seagoing vessel or mobile offshore unit. And it’s also not intended to be installed on such vessels or units. It is also not specifically designed and constructed for military or for research purposes. And it is also clearly not a mine winding gear. And it is not intended to move performers during artistic performances though it could be used as a requisite on the stage during performance. And it is also not an electrical or an electronic product or a high voltage electrical equipment.
There is no exception applicable to the wheelbarrow. And we already concluded that it falls within the definition of Machinery. Therefore the Machinery Directive seems applicable to the wheelbarrow. But we are not done yet. There is still Article 3 of the MD, concerning Specific Directives.
Where, for machinery, the hazards referred to in Annex I are wholly or partly covered more specifically by other Community Directives, this Directive shall not apply, or shall cease to apply, to that machinery in respect of such hazards from the date of implementation of those other Directives.
To find out if there are other Directives and Regulations applicable to the wheelbarrow which cover MD relevant hazards more specifically, goes beyond the scope of this small case study. It would require an extensive scan of Directives and Regulations and their applicability to the wheelbarrow as we have done above for the MD. Then hazards covered by those other Directives and Regulations should to be compared to the ones covered by the MD. It does however illustrate that finding out which Directives and Regulations are applicable to a product is a complicated matter. Even for a seemingly simple product as a wheelbarrow.
If you need assistance in identifying applicable EU Directives and Regulations, Unitron Regulatory can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us.