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    Noise Emission of Outdoor Equipment directive

    Summary

    This CE marking directive applies to 57 specified types of apparatus, the majority of which are mobile equipment designed for outdoor use. The directive applies irrespective of power source, and includes (for example) lawnmowers, generators, forestry and construction equipment. Equipment intended to be used on road, rail, air or waterways, and equipment intended to be used by the police or military is excluded.

     

    The Directive contains two lists of equipment in articles 12 and 13. Equipment in article 12 must meet specific noise limits, and must be marked with their maximum noise level. Complying with this part of the Directive requires notified body involvement, either to approve a manufacturer's quality control system or approve the noise tests performed on the product. Equipment in article 13 is not subject to noise limits, but must still be marked with its maximum noise level. This equipment can be self-certified by following the test procedures and documentation requirements set out in the Directive and harmonized standards.

    Both types of equipment covered by this Directive require a technical file, a declaration of conformity and the products to be marked with the CE logo. Uniquely, a copy of the declaration of conformity containing the noise test results must be sent to the European Commission and national governments of EU states in which the product will be sold. The Directive came fully into force in January 2002.

     

    Scope

    The directive applies to a list of 57 specified types of apparatus. The list includes a wide variety of mobile equipment which is intended for use outdoors, and applies irrespective of the source of power. In practice, most equipment powered by diesel or petrol engines and much equipment which is electrically powered and which is used outdoors is covered in one way or another. Typical examples are lawnmowers, generators, welders, construction equipment, agricultural and forestry equipment as well as building site and earth moving equipment.

     

    Exact definitions of each type of equipment are contained in Annex 1 of the Directive. If a piece of equipment does not fall within any of the definitions then it is not within the scope of this directive.

    There are certain specific exclusions, including vehicles intended to be used on road, rail, air or waterways and equipment for military and police purposes.

     

    Requirements

    The key requirement of the Directive is that the noise level from machines must be measured and marked on the machinery using a specified form of label.

    The noise value marked on the machines must be the ‘guaranteed noise level’ which means that where machines are produced in number, none of them are permitted to exceed the noise level given by the marking. Therefore, it is necessary to test a number of machines in order to give a statistically valid measurement, or add a factor to allow for variations between different units if only a small number are tested.

    The Directive defines the test methods which have to be used to determine the noise level from a machine and these are based on a number of harmonised standards, as well as detailed conditions given in the Directive. Manufacturers of equipment in either list are responsible for ensuring that the noise measurements on their equipment are made according to the requirements of the standards and are documented accordingly.

    In addition to the requirement to label the machine with the guaranteed sound power level, manufacturers must compile a technical file to show that the measurements were made in accordance with the specified test methods and they must also complete a Declaration of Conformity for each piece of equipment. The Declaration must include details of the procedures followed and of the noise values measured. The CE logo must also be applied to the machine to show compliance with the directive, although in practice the machinery will already have to show the logo under the other directives which apply to it.

    Uniquely, the Directive also requires that a copy of the Declaration of Conformity showing the noise values for the machinery must be sent to both the European Commission in Brussels and to the responsible authority of the EU member state in which the manufacturer is based. Declarations can be sent electronically. It is understood that the intention is to gather information on the environmental noise performance of equipment across the community rather than as an enforcement exercise, but our experience is that incorrectly completed Declarations have the potential to draw the attention of the enforcing agency.

    For machinery listed on article 12, compliance with the Directive will require the involvement of an independently accredited laboratory (a “notified body”). For most equipment one of two procedures can be followed. In the first the manufacturer must have an accredited quality management system which covers the measurement of noise of their products and controls any noise sensitive factors in the manufacturing process. The notified body role is to provide accreditation for the quality control system. In the second route, the manufacture can simply perform the tests themselves and then present the results to the notified body along with the Technical File. The notified body will check that the results demonstrate that the noise emissions from the machinery are below the limits set in the Directive, and will check that the method used to make the measurements is in accordance with the requirements of the appropriate standard.

    Machinery listed on article 13 can be self-certified by the manufacturer but it important to realise that the test methods and documentation defined in the Directive must be followed and the enforcement authorities have the power to take action against a manufacturer who fails to follow the correct procedures or to document them properly.

    It is not clear why some equipment was felt to be needful of mandatory limits and independently audited testing procedures while other equipment was not, but it would appear that in general the equipment which requires notified body involvement is that which was already subject to some restrictions under preceding legislation.