Does CE compliance regulation go far enough to address the statutory requirements for safety?


During many years of work in the UK manufacture & construction industries there have been many occasions when equipment manufacturers (both domestic and overseas) have designed and constructed plant and equipment that drastically falls short of the of the statutory requirements for safety.

As we know the CE compliance requirements came in to force to ensure that any plant machinery or equipment made in or supplied to the EU member states was safe to use in the community.

Accidents can still happen

I have personally investigated many serious incidents involving plant and machinery that have occurred as a direct result of not considering fully the human factor.

Here are a few examples from my own experience:

Mini dumper truck – with lift bucket


Requirement for Safety signage on the back of the bucket including – “level do not raise laden bucket whilst the dumper is resting on a left to right incline at angles of 23º or greater”
Consideration – how many people can determine this without gauges dials, or warning sirens when a rough terrain dumper truck on a construction site and  operating at an angle marginally greater than the manufacturers guidelines of 23º?

Why was there NOT an audible or warning dial that informs the operator of the inclination or dangerous condition?

Many of these dumper trucks HAVE overturned to my knowledge on construction sites and I have experienced another safety concern in that there is no engine cut out when the vehicle has turned over. In one particular case I investigated the engine continued to operate and the drive wheels continued to drive whilst the vehicle was on its side!

Lawn Mower – Ride on – large industrial


A ride on lawn mower operator can drive up to an obstacle in a large park apply the foot brake and this overrides the seat switch (which shuts the engine down if the driver alights). The driver can then walk around the mower and move any potential obstruction get back on release the foot brake and drive off without having to keep stop/starting the engine.

Good common sense stuff I hear you say but consider this:-

The engine is running while the operative walks around the machine with all of the power take offs are running (blades rotating). Would you expect the machine to shut down or to stop if an operative were to remove a guard on the rotating blades?

Or when the operative opens the grass collection box (with a rotating compressor within)?  In one particular case I remember, it was not interlocked and seven contraventions of machinery guarding regulations were found!

Spike gun

A large cable spiking tool which uses an explosive cartridge to fire a large metal spike into a HV cable ensuring that the electrical energy in the cable is shorted to earth and effectively made safe.


An accident investigation that I undertook on this type of equipment where a large cast iron cylinder fractured during a firing operation. This particular incident had the potential to release fragments of cast iron into the air around a large area. The actual firing and combustion chamber are not proof tested (as for example a firearm would be) and even more alarming the cast iron firing chamber is not fault or crack tested periodically to ensure safety!

Film & TV lighting equipment

Many lamps and luminaries it the film and television industry use discharge lamps (basically the bulb contains two electrodes) which requires high strike up voltages up to 65 KeV. These voltages have the potential to emit WHAT during the strike up sequence? Just one little clue – Mass attenuation coefficients?

There is very little information available to operatives regarding this type of lamp other than these luminaries produce harmful UV radiation! as described in this book which is in my opinion is very basic.

So what can be done?

How many incidents must happen?

Finally – what would you do?