KANBrief 3/12

ADCO Task Force: co-operation in the interests of better machine safety standards

In order for the valuable observations made during market surveillance activities to be exploited during the standardization process – despite the paucity of resources – it is well worth sounding out possibilities for co-operation, and developing existing models further. In February 2012, the ETUI organized a meeting in Brussels of experts from the ADCO Group Machinery, CEN and OSH institutions. At this meeting, the successful model of the ADCO Task Force Agricultural Machinery was presented.

The ADCO Group Machinery is an informal group in which the national market surveillance bodies pool information and experience at EU level and co-ordinate their activities relating to practical application of the 2006/42/EC Machinery Directive. In order to step up co-operation between the individual national market surveillance authorities, and also with other occupational safety and health experts, and to develop a European consensus on OSH, the decision was taken in the ADCO group to create dedicated task forces for particular subjects. The ADCO Task Force Agricultural Machinery serves as a pilot project for this purpose.

ADCO Task Force co-operation model

Based upon the recommendations of KAN Report 41, "Safety of agricultural machinery", a process was launched at national level in Germany in which proposals for amendments to the essential standards governing agricultural machinery were drawn up jointly by all stakeholders. The resulting consensus was submitted, with the aid of the ADCO Task Force, to the process of European and international standardization. Market surveillance experts from a number of European countries (United Kingdom, Italy, France, Netherlands, Irland, Finland) and representatives of the umbrella association of the German Social Agricultural Insurance, the ETUI and KAN discussed their respective positions on EN ISO 4254-1, the generic standard governing agricultural machinery, and reached a consensus.

In order for the position of the ADCO group to be submitted to the standardization process, a delegate from market surveillance was appointed. The work of this individual was supported financially by the ETUI. The delegate was invited to the meetings by ISO TC 23 SC 3, the international committee responsible for the safety of agricultural machinery. The delegate did not attend as a member of a national delegation and was not therefore able to vote, but had the opportunity to explain ADCO's position. ISO, the International Standards Organization, welcomes the willingness of market surveillance bodies to make their position known at an early stage and to participate in the standardization process.

Co-operation saves resources

The market surveillance experts are able to exert influence upon machine safety standards at various stages of their development. They can propose standardization projects themselves or issue comments during the public inquiry. The best and most effective method is however continued work in the standards committees at national, European and international level, ideally from commencement of work on a standard through to its publication.

It remains a fact however that their lack of financial and personnel resources prevents market surveillance bodies from participating in all relevant standardization topics. Since standards for agricultural machinery are generally developed in parallel at ISO and CEN under the Vienna Agreement, participation frequently entails travel to meetings outside Europe. Priorities must therefore be set and greater use made of the scope for co-operation.

As the example of agricultural machinery has shown, the ADCO Task Force model provides an opportunity for work and resources to be divided up amongst the participating parties and for their voice to be made heard in standardization with relatively little outlay. Once common priorities have been formulated and an expert group identified, the points considered relevant from an OSH perspective can be discussed at a small number of meetings. Use can also be made of the latest communications technology in order to facilitate the work process and to keep expenditure low.

It is important that full use be made of the opportunity and that the ADCO Task Force model be extended in the future, not least in view of the European Commission's new Standardisation Regulation (to be adopted shortly) (refer also to KANBrief 3/11), which explicitly requires the encouragement of market surveillance’s involvement in the standardization process.

Stefano Boy ETUI     Katharina von Rymon Lipinski

sboy@etui.org          vonrymonlipinski@kan.de