Legislation and Standards for Industrial Safety

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Advice and guidance on the latest changes in legislative compliance and standards worldwide.

Legislation, Directives, and Standards

LegislationLegislation (Law) for industrial safety differs from country to country and is regulated by organizations within those countries. This can be challenging for manufacturing to understand and meet such requirements, especially when working across multiple countries and regions. Specific understanding of local laws for industrial safety should be considered.

DirectivesDirectives are in place to help manufacturers understand and follow prescribed requirements. These directives typically are commercial regulations published by legally authorized organizations, but importantly, are not law. The EU directives however are somewhat of a unique case. The European Union (EU) requires its member states to achieve certain objectives, and directives are used by member state countries to meet such objectives. In many cases the directives are adopted into national law.

StandardsStandards are generally developed and published to offer guidelines for industry to use. Working to published and generally accepted standards, an acceptance of conformity to directives may be accepted.

Local/Regional Standards

The countries of the world are working towards global harmonization of standards. This is especially evident in the area of machine safety. Global safety standards for machinery are governed by two organizations: ISO and IEC. Regional and country standards are still in existence and continue to support local requirements but in many countries there has been a move toward using the international standards produced by ISO and IEC.

EN (European Norm) Standards

For example, the EN (European Norm) standards are used throughout the EEA countries. All new EN standards are aligned with, and in most cases have identical text with ISO and IEC standards. IEC covers electro technical issues and ISO covers all other issues. Most industrialized countries are members of IEC and ISO. Machinery safety standards are written by working groups comprised of experts from many of the world’s industrialized counties. In most countries standards can be regarded as voluntary whereas regulations are legally mandatory. However standards are usually used as the practical interpretation of the regulations. Therefore the worlds of standards and regulations are closely interlinked.

Industrial safety standards are typically structured into A, B and C standards.

  • Type A. Standards: Cover aspects applicable to all types of machines.
  • Type B. Standards: Subdivided into 2 groups:
    • Type B1 Standards: Cover particular safety and ergonomic aspects of machinery.
    • Type B2 Standards: Cover safety components and protective devices.
  • Type C. Standards: Cover specific types or groups of machines.

It is important to note that complying with a C Standard gives automatic presumption of conformity with the EHSRs. In the absence of a suitable C Standard, A and B Standards can be used as part or full proof of EHSR conformity by pointing to compliance with relevant sections.

Agreements have been reached for cooperation between CEN/CENELEC and bodies such as ISO and IEC. This should ultimately result in common worldwide standards. In most cases an EN Standard has a counterpart in IEC or ISO. In general the two texts will be the same and any regional differences will be given in the forward of the standard.

View a Comprehensive List of Machinery Safety Standards


U.S. and OSHA StandardsWhere possible, OSHA promulgates national consensus standards or established Federal standards as safety standards. The mandatory provisions (e.g., the word shall implies mandatory) of the standards, incorporated by reference, have the same force and effects as the standards listed in Part 1910. For example, the national consensus standard NFPA 70 is listed as a reference document in Appendix A of Subpart S-Electrical of Part 1910 of 29 CFR. NFPA 70 is a voluntary standard, which was developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA 70 is also known as the National Electric Code (NEC). By incorporation, all the mandatory requirements in the NEC are mandatory by OSHA.

ANSI StandardsThe American National Standards Institute (ANSI) serves as the administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary standardization system. It is a private, non-profit, membership organization supported by a diverse constituency of private and public sector organizations. ANSI, itself, does not develop standards; it facilitates the development of standards by establishing consensus among qualified groups. ANSI also ensures that the guiding principles of consensus, due process and openness are followed by the qualified groups. Below is a partial list of industrial safety standards that can be obtained by contacting ANSI. These standards are categorized as either application standards or construction standards. Application standards define how to apply a safeguarding to machinery. Examples include ANSI B11.1, which provides information on the use of machine guarding on power presses, and ANSI/RIA R15.06, which outlines safeguarding use for robot guarding.

Canadian StandardsCSA Standards reflect a national consensus of producers and users – including manufactures, consumers, retailers, unions and professional organizations, and government agencies. The standards are used widely by industry and commerce and often adopted by municipal, provincial, and federal governments in their regulations, particularly in the fields of health, safety, building and construction, and the environment. Individuals, companies, and associations across Canada indicate their support for CSA’s standards development by volunteering their time and skills to CSA Committee work and supporting the Association’s objectives through sustaining memberships. The more than 7000 committee volunteers and the 2000 sustaining memberships together form CSA’s total membership. The Standards Council of Canada is the coordinating body of the National Standards system, a federation of independent, autonomous organizations working towards the further development and improvement of voluntary standardization in the national interest.

Australian StandardsMost of these standards are closely aligned with the equivalent ISO/IEC/EN standards.

There are many standards covering a vast area of industry. The following information on key standards for industrial safety is shown here and is to the best of our knowledge and belief.


Legislation, Directives, and Standards Video


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