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Machine Safety Standards Explained

December 20, 2022

Machine safety standards provide requirements, specifications and guidance to ensure that materials, machinery, processes and services are fit for purpose. 

While ‘safety standards’ is a familiar term, practically everything has some kind of standard applied to it which is published by ISO.

Alongside safety, the other main ISO standards categories relate to quality management, energy management, environmental management, food safety and IT security. 

Our clients here at Metreel material handling will likely be familiar with safety standards that relate to machine safety specifically. In total, ISO has 318 different standards which are classified as machine safety standards. 

Here is an introduction to machine safety standards, along with their importance. 

safety harness 1500x1000 1 from Metreel

Types Of Safety Standards

Type A (basic standards) give basic concepts for the design and other general aspects that can be applied to machinery. 

  • B11.0

Type B (generic safety standards) consider one or more safety aspects relating to machinery safeguards. 

  • B11.19, B11.20, B11.21, B11.25 and B11.26

Type C (machinery safety standards) cover the specific safety standards for a machine or group of machines.

  • Machine-specific B11. x standards

Why Is Safety Important?

Safety should be the top priority of every business, especially where there is an obvious risk of illness, injury or death due to the nature of the work carried out. 

In terms of machine safety, while machines often make workplaces more productive, they also pose various hazards. However, by using the correct tools and processes including following relevant machine safety standards, the risk of a serious accident occurring can be reduced. This means a business can enjoy the vast range of benefits machinery can bring to its operations as was intended when that machinery was invested in.

Ultimately, a safe workplace is for the benefit of employees, their families and the wider public. As a business, fewer safety incidents (or better still none at all!) reduces the chance of litigation too. 

Are Machine Safety Standards Law?

The short answer is sometimes. That’s because in some cases, a machine safety standard may be written into law depending on the standard in question and the laws of that particular country. In other cases, a machine safety standard may be considered an industry best practice. This means compliance is not strictly legal but is highly recommended to ensure best safety practices. 

Whether a safety standard is law or not is somewhat irrelevant if an injury, illness or death was to occur because that safety standard was not complied with. That’s because it is the responsibility of employers to do their utmost to protect workers from injury, and this includes complying with all legal and industry-recommended guidance. It may not look favourably on that employer if a recommended safety standard was ignored and a serious injury or a fatality was to occur as a result.

Furthermore, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that employers have a duty to ‘secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work’. Therefore, our best advice is to always put safety first by following all applicable machine safety standards, regardless of whether they are strictly law or not, as other health and safety laws may overlap with the standard in question. 

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Metreel Material Handling – Need More Help With Machine Safety Standards?

Is your workplace as safe and efficient as it should be? With so many safety standards in existence, it’s time to consult the experts if you have any doubts about machine safety standards.

Metreel is a material handling company, meaning you’re in the right place for all things specialist advice. We’re based in Derbyshire and cover the entire UK and beyond. Download our free brochure to discover more about our product specifications by visiting our product brochure page

Alternatively, if you’re ready to place an order or have any questions about machine safety standards, please give us a call on 0115 932 7010 or email us at [email protected].