CE Marking and the concept of Risk - Why Safety testing counts

Stephen Tait Element Product Testing Expert
By Engaged Expert Stephen Tait

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CE Marking is a mandatory conformity mark for most goods sold within the European Economic Area (EEA).

CE Marking is essentially a self-declaration by the manufacturer that the product meets safety, health and environmental requirements and therefore allows free movement within the European market place.  However, self-declaration still requires a level of technical support to allow this claim to be made by a manufacturer.  As part of the 2016 NLF updates, risk, and the safety implications of risk, has been made an important part of the CE Marking process.

CE Marking and Risk

There are two specific risks associated with CE Marking:

  1. Are you willing to take the risk of self-declaring against the CE Directives without satisfactory evidence that your product meets all the essential requirements of Low Voltage or Machinery Safety Directives?
  2. Actually ensuring your product is safe, not just functionally acceptable , but also to ensure the devices are used in a way that will not cause harm to the user, domestic animals and property during installation, use or maintenance (the ‘What if?’ scenario).

The combination of both risks and not acting on them correctly could be very costly both financially and potential loss of reputation and creditability in the market place. Every day product recalls are listed on the RAPEX website on the basis that devices do not meeting the essential health and safety requirements of the CE marking Directives and therefore potentially not safe for use; the most common risks being identified with these devices are defects that could cause Electric Shock or Fire.

The best way to mitigate potential product recalls and to ensure you meet the correct requirements is to progress with third party testing.

Why is safety testing required?

The main reason for conducting Safety testing is to ensure products meet the essential requirements of the Low Voltage or Machinery Safety Directive and thus ensuring a manufacturer can demonstrate presumption of conformity to the applicable directive.  Using a third party test laboratory is the most efficient and reliable way to ensure devices are fully compliant to harmonized standards and suitable for their end application. Third party testing from an accredited test laboratory guarantees the product has been tested in accordance with the correct requirements and gives the manufacturer confidence when signing the final part of the process, the Declaration of Conformity. It is essential that products have undergone the correct level of test and review to ensure that:

  1. The product is not liable to overheating and cause fire
  2. The product has suitable electrical isolation  and cannot cause an electric shock hazard
  3. Potential non primary use case risks have been considered or identified
  4. The product is correctly marked and the instructions for use are clear and allow the user to install and operate the equipment safely

Appropriate third party safety testing will increase credibility when looking to sell products to a global market. Most countries will not accept test reports unless they have been issued by an appropriately accredited test laboratory. This is also true for retailers and consumers who require assurance that a product is safe and will not cause issues when placed on the market or put into service.

If you would like further advice about your CE Marking requirements and preparing a product for Safety testing, please contact one of our Experts today.

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