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Advisory Notes

Expert Witness Engineers are advised to take reference to the legislation and responsibility on safety in their reports.


Professional Design Engineers are required to eliminate risks of injury and accident where such risks can be eliminated, and to minimize risks that cannot. Where a minimised risk remains, designers must warn the user in writing (e.g. warnings in instruction manuals, fixed notices, bulletins, labels and/or pictograms, or verbally). Design and Expert Witness Engineers are also required to take into account likely risks arising from the foreseeable misuse of equipment as well as from its correct use, when carrying out mandatory risk assessments.

Designers are not automatically relieved of responsibility for safety simply by adhering to standards and codes of practice. British Standards national forewords states that, ‘Compliance with a British Standard does not of itself confer immunity from legal obligations.’ This fundamental principle applies across all engineering design.


Sale of Goods Act 1979/1994 - states that‘. . . a contract of sale may be made in writing (either with or without seal), or by word of mouth, or partly in writing and partly by word of mouth, or may be implied from the conduct of the parties.’

The Act states that, ’ there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality, and,’ . . . goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory’ and.’ . . . the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods, including,’ . . .safety,’


PUWER 1998 - states that ‘ work equipment' means any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not.’ The Regulations apply to equipment which has not been supplied in compliance with relevant EC product Directives, such as the Machinery Directive and require that equipment provided for use at work is, ‘suitable for the intended use,’ and states that ‘In this regulation "suitable" means suitable in any respect which it is reasonably foreseeable will affect the health or safety of any person . . .’

The Regulations refer to, ‘Specific risks,’ stating that, ‘ The employer shall ensure that the persons designated . . . have received adequate training related to any operations in respect of which they have been so designated.

The regulations require that, ’ all persons who use work equipment have available to them adequate health and safety information and, where appropriate, written instructions pertaining to the use of the work equipment, and, ‘ . . . equipment has available to him adequate health and safety information.’

The Regulations require that, ’ Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is marked in a clearly visible manner with any marking appropriate for reasons of health and safety, ’ and , ‘warnings given by warning devices on work equipment shall not be appropriate unless they are unambiguous, easily perceived and easily understood.’


Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992/2008 - make it an offence for a responsible person’ to supply machinery, partly-completed machinery or safety components unless they comply with the Regulations, i.e. they have the requisite technical file, Declaration of Conformity, EC Type-examination certificate, Declaration of Incorporation as appropriate, is CE marked and is in fact ‘safe’’


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing the Regulations in relation to machinery and safety components for use at work. Local authority Trading Standards Officers are responsible for machinery and safety components for private use.


Machinery Directive - 98/37/EC & 2006/42 - applicable to all machinery not specifically excluded, whether or not it is exported within the EU, The ‘Guidance Notes on UK Regulations’ issued by the BIS also make no distinction between goods sold with one EU country, and across EU internal borders.


The Machinery Directive - 89/392/EEC as codified by 98/37/EC is the primary legislation from which other safety legislation flows.

The Directive states that, ’ For the purposes of this Directive. . ‘machinery’ means . . . an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves, with the appropriate actuators, control and power circuits, etc., joined together for a specific application, . . .’, The important wording is specific application.

Under the Directive a machine is defined as
"an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves . . .".

There are exclusions such as military equipment, machines which are already covered by other, more specific, directives and some equipment which falls within the scope of the Low Voltage Directive. All machinery not specifically excluded under the clause specifying exclusions are included.

The Regulations are enforced in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive for machinery used in the workplace, and the Local Authority Trading Standards Service for machinery used elsewhere.

The Directive states that, ‘The vast majority of machinery may be self-certified by the manufacturer who must meet the administrative and protection requirements of the Directive. The essential protection requirements demand that machine manufacturers identify the hazards their products contain and assess the risks these hazards present to users. Any risks identified must be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. Detailed requirements are laid out in a series of safety standards.'


Technical File - This Directive and Directive 98/37/EC (Annex VI) require manufacturers to produce a Technical File), sign a Declaration of Conformity and label the product with certain markings. Expert Witness Engineers have a right of access to Technical Files.


Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 - The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the advisory and enforcement body of the Act in the UK An employer who has more than five employees must prepare a written health and safety policy statement. Expert Witness Engineers may have access to this.


British Standards - Expert Witness Engineers should take reference to relevant Standards. For example, those applicable to machinery include: BS EN 292 - 1 1991 Safety of Machinery – Basic concepts, general principles for design, BS EN 292 -2 1994 Safety of Machinery – Basic concepts, general principles for design, and BS 8800:2004 Occupational Health and Safety - Management Systems Guide.


EU Directive 85/374/EEC 1985 – (Faulty Products) - protects consumers' rights by outlining the legal responsibility of manufacturers for whatever products they produce. It also helps the process of product liability compensation claims should they arise, and affects manufacturer’s decisions on recalls for retrofit and repair.

Items included in the directive can be from a variety of manufacturing sectors and include everything from cars and toys to food and pharmaceutical substances. If a product is defective, it is deemed to be 'less safe than a consumer can reasonably expect'. Before the Directive, consumers had to prove at their cost that a manufacturer had been negligent in causing an injury. Now you only have to prove the product is defective and that it caused an injury. If one or more people are responsible for the product, it is considered to be a joint product liability.


The General Product Safety (GPS) Regulations 2005 which implement Directive 2001/95/EC, came into force in the UK on 1st October 2005 replacing the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 and s10 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

In principle, the 2005 Regulations apply to all products (new and second-hand) used by consumers, whether intended for them or not.

The 2005 Regulations maintain the general duty placed on producers and distributors to place on the market (or supply) only products that are safe in normal or reasonable.