Latest update: 28/04/2023

Guidance on the application of the essential health and safety requirements on ergonomics

Guidance issued by the EU Commission in 2010 to explain the relationship between the ergonomic requirements of the Machinery Directive and the harmonised standards.

Machinery Directive
Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC contains provisions for manufacturers placing machinery products on the EU market. The Directive defines essential health and safety requirements, which are further specified by European harmonised standards. The essential health and safety requirements also include ergonomic principles that have to be taken into account when designing machinery in order to prevent (or reduce as much as possible) any discomfort, fatigue or physical or psychological stress faced by the operator (point 1.1.6 of annex 1).

The guidance document presents an overview of five ergonomic factors and four possible negative outcomes. These nine items are:

  • operators variability;
  • space of movements; 
  • work rate;
  • concentration;
  • human/machine interface;
  • physical stress; 
  • psychological stress;
  • discomfort;
  • fatigue.

For each of these items a short explanation is provided, practical examples and the list of relevant harmonised standards. 
The guidance is complementary to the Guide to application of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Note: this guidance document dates from 2010 and many of the harmonised standards have since been updated. However, the ergonomic requirements (point 1.1.6 of annex 1) have not been changed and therefore the guidelines provide useful information on their practical application.  

Publication details
Published by: European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Publication date: July 2010
Number of pages: 28 pp.

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