Electrotechnical standards are prepared primarily at international level, by IEC. International guides also provide the framework for European and German standardization.
For further information on the subject, see KAN study "Consideration of non-electrical hazards in standardization in support of the Low Voltage Directive"
In the field of electrical engineering, both company regulations and regulations concerning the nature of products have always been laid down in standards. In 1985, however, the European Community created a legal foundation specifying new key aspects for the interaction of OH&S and standardization: while requirements concerning the nature of products are fully standardized within the framework of the European single market, and European standards have a major role to play in this regard, only minimum requirements are specified at European level for the safety and health of workers at work (company regulations); the Member States may impose stricter regulations depending on the state of their national legislation. In this case, therefore, uniform European standards are counter-productive. The framework for their preparation is explained in the European Commission Memorandum on standardization within the framework of article 118A.
Electrotechnical standards which lay down company regulations, whether together with requirements concerning the nature of products or not, must be revised (see "Article 118a EC Treaty – EU Memorandum checklist" in KANBrief 2/98). At KAN, German occupational health and safety institutions have drafted a document ("OH&S and standardization") together with DIN and DKE which summarizes the modified legal framework of the EU and presents a common working basis.
Harmonized standards for electrical machines must be consistent with the essential safety requirements of both the "Low Voltage Directive" and the "Machinery Directive". A heterogeneous set of standards has emerged for these machines in which the consideration given to occupational health and safety aspects varies greatly. A mandate issued by the European Commission calls upon CEN and CENELEC to revise the existing standards accordingly.