KANBrief 1/10

Is agricultural machinery on the home straight?

At the end of 2009, Germany submitted a proposal to ISO for a revision of EN ISO 4254-1, “Agricultural machinery – Safety – Part 1: General requirements”. It marked the beginning of a series of revisions to the standards governing agricultural machinery which were prompted by KAN Report 41, “Safety of agricultural machinery”, and which are now to be implemented successively. The efforts of the occupational safety and health lobby have borne fruit.

Eight to ten OSH experts attended each discussion held in 2008/2009 by the advisory board and the technical committees of the agricultural engineering standards group (NLA). The OSH experts formed a consensus prior to the committee sessions, in order to be able to present an OSH position en bloc. Above all, the active involvement of the OSH representatives of the public authorities, statutory accident insurance institutions and social partners led to concrete proposals for revision of the agricultural machinery standards now being available.

Progress of the discussions at national level

A consensus was reached in the NLA committees on the greater part of the items for discussion; this extended to generic topics which for a long time had been contentious, for example protection against intentional/unintentional contact, protection against power transmission components, and running-on of parts and tools. Proposals for solutions were formulated for two topics which could not be resolved in the review process itself:

  • Visibility

A project group drew up a document for the evaluation and testing of the visibility on selfpropelled machines. The document will be submitted to ISO as a proposal for a standard. From an OSH perspective, a comparable document for semi-trailed and trailed machines is still lacking: a substantially more difficult endeavour, since it concerns the combination with the tractor.

  • Actuating forces

An early appraisal by TU Darmstadt revealed that the actuating forces stated in the agricultural machinery standards are too high. A study programme is to clarify the issue.

As yet, no solution has been found for the subject of emergency-stop on agricultural machinery. It remains a topic of discussion between manufacturers, users, and OSH representatives.

What is happening at European/ international level?

ADCO “Agricultural machinery” task force

At the end of 2009, ADCO, a group of representatives of the European market surveillance authorities, formed a task force for the purpose of supporting standardization of agricultural machinery at European/international level whilst observing the principles and proposals of the Cracow Memorandum. Its first meeting was attended by 13 representatives from seven countries (Germany, France, Finland, Italy, Irland, Netherlands, United Kingdom), together with representatives from the ETUI and KAN.

ETUI Agri Project

Prompted by the KAN study, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) conducted a project with the objective of surveying users’ experiences and expectations, with reference to the example of combine harvesters. Findings from this survey are to be incorporated into the standard governing combine harvesters. Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom were involved in the project.


In its “Machinery” forum, the network of European OSH experts offers a sub-forum under the heading “Agricultural machinery” for the discussion of topical developments at standardization level. At this venue, experts can agree upon common positions which they are then able to present to the standardization process.

Future prospects

The discussions at national level were an important interim phase. Some generic topics (visibility, emergency-stop, actuating forces) still await conclusive discussion at national level. Further discussions, initially at national level, are pending for the formulation of product-specific standards. The European/international level is of decisive importance for future standardization activity. Further efforts are necessary in order for the progress already made at national level to be implemented effectively at European/international level.

Rita Schlüter