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  • Is there a guide to UK ‘legislation’?

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by Archimedes, Apr 30, 2013.

    1. Archimedes

      Archimedes Active Member

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      Can anybody advise on the application of legislation and directives in UK?

      I was hoping to set up my own product design company someday and I would like to be able to design any type of product in any industry. A friend of mine has suggested that a major stumbling point will the legislations governing product design. And that every product will be governed by some legislation. He advised that my company would be non-competitive as I would have to factor in purchasing, reading and applying 200-250 page legislations each time we worked on a different product. During my career I have worked in a variety of industries although it has mainly been for larger organisations and maybe I have been shielded from ‘legislation’ in some respects. The companies I have worked for usually specialised in one field and often there was a particular British Standard that we worked to. I have always been provided the applicable standard I need to work to. If I set up my own company, I guess I would need to establish what legislation was applicable for each project.

      I have an example, while at university as part of the course we had to design and build an office chair. The main purpose of the project was for us to perform structural mechanics calculations for the frame work. After graduation my friend tried to market his chair and approached a small online retailer. The retailer liked the chair (I didn’t), but refused to sell this chair as he couldn’t prove it met the necessary legislation (I laughed! Legislation for a chair!). He explained that he could show all the loading calculations including safety factors but the retailer said that’s not important, however as the chair had some fabric surfaces, he must prove the material is fire resistant and it must be labelled correctly. They said that it is illegal to sell furniture that does not have this label. My friend gave up in the end. But having thought about this, what would have happened if my friend had not had such big ambitions, not gone to the retailer and just sold this chair on eBay. In a years’ time will he have the police knocking at his door saying there was a fire in a building which started on his furniture somebody died and he is going to prison? Surely this is not the case! How would my friend (and me eventually) know that his product needs to be fire proof? And would it really have been ‘illegal’ (meaning a directive) or just not a standard this retailer works to?

      Then if there is legislation that furniture needs to conform to then doesn’t that mean it will be CE marked? I have checked the chair I am sitting on and it is not CE marked.

      Is it true that there is legislation for every single product on the market? Say I wanted to design a non-spill cup or a plastic sink tap. I could understand that there might be some legislation saying you can’t make these out of poisonous materials. But who governs it? How would I know? I have just had a quick look on the British standard website and I can’t find any standards on cup design. (As I expected).

      Can anybody provide a rough guide on where and when ‘legislation’ applies?
       
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    3. ChrisW

      ChrisW Well-Known Member

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      Archimedes, there are a number of sources and depending on your projects, their value, and the time you can commit to gathering information you can start with these:

      http://www.tuv-uk.com/uk

      Both publish guides and act as (reasonably priced) consultants for all aspects of international compliance. I can personally recommend their services.

      http://cronersolutions.co.uk/
      More general guides for business, transport, employment etc.

      http://www.iso.org/iso/store.htm
      If you want to do it all yourself you can buy ISO standards here. It is expensive and very complex!

      With respect to the chair, it must be CE marked and on demand a technical document must be provided showing compliance with all necessary standards. TUV UK could advise on all applicable standards and if requested can do an audit of all documents and an inspection of the product. If I recall, the cost involved was £2-3k for a product worth £1/4M (it only has to be done once!) including travel to site and inspections. It is your "stay out of jail free" card if something catastrophic happened.

      Good luck!
       
    4. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      And I thought it was bad here in the US...
       
    5. Archimedes

      Archimedes Active Member

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      Thanks for your, responses. I have reviewed the websites and they look really useful, although I get the impression they would be too expensive for a one man band. So as I understand it if I design a new pencil (a low cost, low design time item that I know there is guidelines for…. no lead!) I will have to contact one of these companies to see if I conform to the necessary standards. So I guess this is true that my product design company would be non-competitive. Do all companies all stick to designing one type of product? That’s a shame as once I have finished a project I want to move on to a different one, not do the same project in a different colour. This has normally meant moving companies.

      Just to bring it back to legislation (and unfortunately the chair) I have checked most of the chairs in my office and none of them are CE marked (as one of the replies suggested they would be) but most do have a non-flammable sticker/tag. Why aren’t they CE marked? I took this one step further to review more items in my office and none of the furniture is CE marked, neither is any of the windows doors etc. However all of my computer equipment, desk lamp and phone are. The only products that have a CE mark are the electrical ones. Does CE marking only apply to electrical items?

      By the way I do not currently nor will I ever design furniture, I just use this as an example as there is some around me to look at, and I assume others have some of it around them too.
       
    6. ChrisW

      ChrisW Well-Known Member

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      Just to be realistically cynical, most imported products, especially from the far east, are rarely compliant. The requirement to produce the technical document has never been requested in my experience. Creative crafters such as ornamental metalworkers and jobbing joiners do not CE mark and are never called on it.

      It could be suggested that if you do not manufacture a contentious product such as toys or dangerous machinery and can record due diligence in your design then it is unlikely that you will be challenged. The next big question is do you want to take out product liability?

      Arnolde, while it may not be as bad in the states, the potential cost of any problem can be massively disproportionate.
       
    7. Archimedes

      Archimedes Active Member

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      I have done some more investigation. According to Gov.uk CE marking only applies to;

      •active implantable medical devices
      •appliances burning gaseous fuels
      •cableway installations designed to carry persons
      •eco-design of energy related products
      •electromagnetic compatibility
      •equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
      •explosives for civil uses
      •hot-water boilers
      •household refrigerators and freezers
      •in vitro diagnostic medical devices
      •lifts
      •low voltage
      •machinery
      •measuring instruments
      •medical devices
      •noise emission in the environment
      •non-automatic weighing instruments
      •personal protective equipment
      •pressure equipment
      •pyrotechnics
      •radio and telecommunications terminal equipment
      •recreational craft
      •safety of toys
      •simple pressure vessels

      Therefore going back to the examples in the previous posts above it appears that furniture, stationary, jewellery, taps, kitchen utensils…… etc do not need to be CE marked.

      This means there must be more legislation other than CE marking governing product design. The search continues……
       
    8. ChrisW

      ChrisW Well-Known Member

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      You have no idea the can of worms you refer to!
      The CE mark is just an indication of compliance with ISO standards and directives. If there is no requirement for CE marking to be applied it doesn't mean there aren't other standards and directives which require compliance.

      My link earlier to the ISO store allows retrieval of all documents (at a price) but it also depends on whether you can interpret them.

      Like all law, some matters are only clarified by a court case which is why I try to get the professional involved as they then become liable for non-compliance or miss-interpretation rather than me.
       
    9. Frugal-TPH

      Frugal-TPH Member

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      Its pretty simple in principle, and depends into which markets you are selling your product(s). For each market there will be a set of governing regulations for products. These are law, and you have to demonstrate compliance with them or you will be liable and could face legal actions. Theoretically if there are no regulations for the market into which you're selling, then there would be nothing to which could be held accountable (and by implication anything would go!).

      In the UK, those regulations are called statutory instruments and are available for free online (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/). The list you posted above for CE marking basically covers them (there aren't really that many). For anything you sell under UK law, you could be called to account under any of these regulations, and so must be able to demonstrate that you have addressed all of their requirements. E.g. "S.I. 2008 No. 1597 - The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008" would govern machine design.

      Now, there are a couple of options for demonstrating compliance with regulations:

      a) You could go the long winded route and do it manually. This would involve listing each and every clause from the regulation of concern, and then stating what you have done to meet that requirement. You would need to be prepared to argue every point with expert witnesses in court, and so you would need in-depth expertise across all your different product types to be able to achieve this.

      b) The easy route - you could identify the relevant British Standards for the product you are designing, and then demonstrate compliance with those, which implies compliance with the relevant regulations of concern (because via Standards, subject-matter experts have effectively already defined and agreed the product characteristics required to meet the regulations, and so there is no additional debate on compliance with Regulation, so long as you actually comply with the Standards).

      There is no such thing as the "product design police" that you have to consult to get a yay or nay in relation to your designs. So these consultants that were mentioned above are not mandatory, and should only be viewed as a helping hand if anything. They can be used to increase your own confidence in your own product, but you would still have to defend your product in court. The reports / assessments of these consultants could form part of your defence if it came to that, but personally I don't think they should be considered a cast-iron get-out-of-jail-free card (don't be complacent - just because you paid someone to say your product was safe, doesn't mean it actually is). If you're the one designing the product to be compliant, I would suggest that you're more than capable of demonstrating that compliance without having to pay an external consultant several thousands of pounds to write that report for you. A second opinion, of course, might be nice in some cases.

      CE marking is the harmonised process covering products on the common European market, and is generally a self-certification scheme. That is, you sell a product, and if queried on it you must produce the technical file to demonstrate compliance. I.e. You aren't mandated to go to anyone for approval before selling. There are caveats to that of course, and some of the regulations will call for certification by notified bodies prior to you selling the products (generally the ones covering more dangerous products like explosives, pressure vessels etc). You would pick up on this by reading the regulations.

      Generally, if you are working ethically (i.e. have good intentions in mind), and are competent at what you are doing (i.e. are actually meeting all the requirements of the regulations and not kidding yourself to that effect), then you should have nothing to worry about; When the time comes to stand up in court and explain yourself, it should be judged that you have acted reasonably.

      Don't let people show that you have acted unreasonably, incompetently or dangerously, by making full use of Regulations, Codes, Standards, R&D, Testing, 2nd opinions, 3rd party checking, or whatever you can to be fully confident in what you have designed. And if you cannot gain that confidence, then you should not be selling that product.
       
    10. An_Splanc

      An_Splanc New Member

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      First post, so here it goes

      I CE mark all types of industrial machines, not so much products. You conform to a directive, the standards tell you how.

      The best website to use is the european directives website.

      http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/european-standards/harmonised-standards/index_en.htm


      This will tell you which directive your product falls under. Each directive section has a list of standards referenced in the directive. The CE marking of the office chair (for example) may fall under General Product Safety 2001/95/EC. One standard for non domestic seating is
      EN 13169:2013.

      EN Standards are catergorised in to 3 types, and I am almost certain that ISO and IEC do the same.
      Type A are fundamental safety standards, given basic principles for design ang general safety[FONT=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif].
      [/FONT]Type B are specific safety satndards, giving basic principals that may be applied across a wide range of products, they are subdivided
      Type C are specific to that product or application.

      I echo Frugal's comments, CE marking is a simple process, it can be done in house for the most part, (unless you require an authorised body).

      Very few people get found guilty of breaches of CE marking, like Frugal says, if you can prove that you looked at your product, saw hazards, eliminated them, reduced them or warn users about them then you are okay.

      I use http://www.saiglobal.com/ for my standards, it a subscription based service, it may or may not help.
       

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