Machinery of the Avant 600 series produced by Finnish manufacturer Avant Tecno was prohibited from being placed on the EU market due to non-conformity with the essential health and safety requirements set out in Directive 2006/42/EC. The European Commission is now forcing the manufacturer to take corrective actions with respect to machinery that has already been placed on the market.
Avant 600 series is multi-purpose earthmoving machinery that can be fitted with a wide range of attachments in order to carry out many different functions during activities such as forestry, farming, landscaping, ground care, property maintenance, material handling, digging and construction.The machinery was CE marked and was accompanied by an EC Declaration of Conformity according to the Directive on machinery (Directive 2006/42/EC), the Directive on electromagnetic compatibility (Directive 2004/108/EC) and the Directive on noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors (Directive 2000/14/EC).
However, the Danish authorities have discovered that the machinery failed to comply with the requirements set out in Section 3.4.4 of Annex I to Directive 2006/42/EC. The requirements in this section specify that, in the case of self-propelled machinery with a ride-on operator, where there is a risk due to falling objects or material, the machinery must be designed and constructed in such a way as to take account of this risk and fitted, if its size allows, with an appropriate protective structure.
The manufacturer was asked to take corrective measures. Since this request was not met, the Danish authorities prohibited the placing on the market of machinery of the Avant 600 series without a falling object protective structure (FOPS) and ordered the manufacturer to take corrective action with respect to machines already placed on the market.
In turn, the manufacturer responded that the Avant 600 series was equipped with a cab tested by the Notified Body MTT-Vakola No 0504. The cab was always fitted with a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and could be fitted with a falling object protective structure (FOPS) as an option. When the machinery was sold for use in agriculture, property maintenance, landscaping or for use in stables, for example, where there was no risk of falling objects, no FOPS was fitted. On the other hand, when the machinery was sold for applications where there was a risk of falling objects, such as for example, use in mines, it was always fitted with a FOPS. The manufacturer also stated that he had decided to clarify the instruction manual and sales literature in order to specify in which situations a cab fitted with a FOPS must be used.
Nonetheless, Section 1.1.2(a) of Annex I to Directive 2006/42/EC, requires machinery to be designed and constructed so that it is fitted for its function and can be operated, adjusted and maintained without putting persons at risk when these operations are carried out under the conditions foreseen but also taking into account any reasonable foreseeable misuse thereof. The aim of measures taken must be to eliminate any risk throughout the foreseeable lifetime of the machinery including the phases of transport, assembly, dismantling, disabling and scrapping. The measures must be taken according to the principles of safety integration set out in Section 1.1.2(b) of Annex I which give priority to integrated protective measures over information for users.
In the case of Avant 600, even if a particular machine is initially supplied for functions or for use in environments not involving a risk due to falling objects or material, it is possible to be used during its foreseeable lifetime for other intended functions or in environments that expose operators to that risk. Consequently, the risk due to falling objects or material must be taken into account in the design and construction of the machine.
Could the third parties warn the finish manufacturer? Did they do it or did they fail to observe the non-compliance themselves? All in all, the most important lesson to be learned from this case is that non-compliance can never be corrected by any sales literature or instruction manuals. It must be solved with design solutions, rather than extra warnings. And even if third parties are involved in the compliance process, the manufacturer is still the only to pay the prize.
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