If you manufacture electrical equipment, find out about the regulations and safety requirements you need to meet
If you manufacture electrical equipment, you must comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. These implement into UK law the European Council Directive 2006/95/EEC - commonly referred to as the Low Voltage Directive (LVD).
The aim of these regulations is to ensure that electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits is safe to use. This guide covers all the main points of the regulations - including which electrical equipment is affected, definition of electrical equipment, safety requirements and how to comply.
If your business manufactures electrical equipment
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 apply to your business if you manufacture electrical equipment designed or adapted for use between 50 and 1,000 volts (in the case of alternating current) or 75 and 1,500 volts (in the case of direct current).
The regulations cover domestic electrical equipment and equipment that is intended for use in the workplace, except electrical equipment described in Schedule 2 of these regulations.
The regulations apply to electrical equipment. In general, components are not covered by the regulations. Only components which are in themselves electrical equipment need to satisfy the requirements of the regulations and, in particular, bear European Conformity (CE) marking.
The term electrical equipment is not defined in the regulations and should therefore be given the ordinary dictionary meaning. Electrical is defined as “operated by means of electricity” or “of pertaining to electricity”.
Equipment is defined as “apparatus” which is in turn defined as “the things collectively necessary for the performance of some activity or function”. An item is only subject to the requirements of the regulations if it is electrical equipment so defined.
Certain components of electrical equipment may in themselves be considered to be electrical equipment. In such cases, steps should be taken to ensure that they satisfy the requirements of the regulations - if they are to be supplied as separate items. This includes supply for retail sales and to other manufacturers for incorporation into other electrical equipment.
Components which are not in themselves electrical equipment do not fall within the scope of the regulations. However, the regulations do require electrical equipment to be safe and therefore the components in it should not render it unsafe.
What are your responsibilities as an electrical equipment manufacturer?
The manufacturer is the person - whether established in the European Economic Area (EEA) or not - who is primarily responsible for designing and manufacturing equipment so that it complies with the safety requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
All electrical equipment must be:
- safe - there should be minimum risk that the electrical equipment will cause death or personal injury to any person or domestic animal, or damage to property
- constructed in accordance with good engineering practice in relation to safety matters
- designed and constructed to ensure that it protects against electric shock through protective earthing, double insulation or equivalent
- designed and constructed to conform with the principal elements of the safety objectives, which are in Schedule 3 of the regulations
Electrical equipment which is constructed to meet the safety provisions of one of the following, in an accepted hierarchy of standards and requirements, will be presumed to comply with the safety requirements of the regulations:
- harmonised - agreed by the national standards bodies of all the EU member states
- international - where no harmonised standard exists, a standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission, which includes the relevant safety objectives of the regulations, details of which have also been published by the European Commission in its official journal
- national - a published British standard or a published standard of the member state of the manufacturer, where no harmonised or international standard exists
Electrical equipment that doesn’t meet any of the accepted hierarchy of standards, perhaps because it is an innovative product, must still comply with the basic requirement to be safe.
Once you are satisfied that your product meets the requirements of the regulations, you should affix CE marking to the equipment. Or, where that’s not possible - to the packaging, the instruction sheet or the guarantee certificate.
You should also draw up a EC Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and compile technical documentation.
Where electrical equipment has not been manufactured to comply with one of the recognised standards, suppliers may want to have the equipment assessed for safety by a notified body.
Notified bodies and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
Notified bodies are appointed by EU member states to support the implementation of certain directives, including the LVD. The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills has appointed a number of test laboratories to act as the UK’s notified bodies for the LVD.
These notified bodies have been assessed to ensure their competence in determining whether or not a product complies with the requirements laid down in Schedule 3 of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. They are appointed to provide opinions or reports on safety, or both.
Reports on safety
The use of notified bodies to draw up a safety report for the manufacturer is not mandatory. However, where electrical equipment has not been constructed to conform to the specifications of any of the recognised standards, suppliers may feel that in some circumstances it is in their best interests to have a safety report drawn up.
In the event that your product is challenged on grounds of safety by an enforcement authority, this report can be used to establish whether the equipment satisfies safety requirements.
The EC may seek an opinion from a notified body where the safety of a product, subject to an enforcement action, is in dispute - and there is a disagreement between member states that cannot be resolved within the time limits specified.
The list can be sorted by country or by notified body name by clicking on the column headings. Please note that UK-based companies are not restricted to using UK notified bodies.
Technical documentation and the EC DoC under the LVD
As a manufacturer, you are responsible for ensuring the electrical equipment you make meets the safety requirements, and for declaring this. This includes three main elements - technical documentation, EC DoC and affixing a CE mark.
It is your responsibility to put together technical documentation for your electrical products before placing them on the market.
These technical documents enable the enforcement authorities to assess whether your equipment meets the requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. This documentation must:
- describe the electrical equipment
- contain information about its design, manufacture and operation
- set out the procedures used to ensure the conformity of the electrical equipment with the safety requirements
The documentation must include:
- a general description of the electrical equipment
- conceptual design and manufacturing drawings, and schemes of components, sub-assemblies, circuits etc
- descriptions and explanations necessary for the understanding of the drawings and schemes referred to above and the operation of the electrical equipment
- a list of the standards applied in full, or in part, and descriptions of the solutions adopted to satisfy the safety requirements of the regulations/directive where standards have not been applied
- results of design calculations made and examinations carried out etc
- test reports - either established by the manufacturer or a third party
- a copy of the EC DoC (see information under next heading below)
As a manufacturer, it is your responsibility to compile the relevant documentation whether you are established in the EEA or not. You must also ensure that the information is kept within the EEA for inspection purposes.
You must also ensure that your manufacturing process is such that the production of the electrical equipment conforms to that described in the documentation. The documentation must be kept for at least ten years after the manufacture of the equipment has ceased.
An EC DoC is a written declaration by you - or your authorised representative - that the equipment to which the CE marking has been affixed complies with the requirements of the regulations. This declaration must:
- identify the manufacturer or the authorised representative
- describe the electrical equipment to which it relates
- where appropriate, specify the harmonised standard(s) or other specifications with which conformity with the safety requirements is declared
- where appropriate, refer to the specifications with which conformity is declared
- identify any signatory empowered to enter into commitments within the EC on behalf of the manufacturer or his authorised representative
- include the last two digits of the year in which the CE marking was affixed
A copy of the EC DoC is not required to accompany each product. But a copy must be retained within the territory of the EEA by the manufacturer, the authorised representative, or failing that, the importer who first places the equipment on the market in the EEA. A copy of the Declaration must also be kept with the technical documentation.
Inspection of the technical documentation and EC DoC
If there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a product is unsafe, the enforcement authorities may request that the EC DoC and/or technical documentation is made available for inspection. Failure to make the documents available within a reasonable amount of time could amount to an offence under the regulations.
CE marking requirements under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations
CE marking is a visible declaration by you or your authorised representative that the electrical equipment satisfies all the provisions of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. Equipment bearing the mark will be taken as meeting the requirements and thereby entitled to free circulation throughout the EEA, provided that the equipment does in fact satisfy those requirements.
CE marking should be affixed to the electrical equipment or, where not possible, to the packaging, the instruction sheet or the guarantee certificate. You may decide for practical reasons to affix it to both the product and its packaging. The mark must be visible, easily legible and in an indelible form.
By affixing CE marking to electrical equipment, you are making a statement that in your view the equipment meets the requirements of all relevant directives. It does not mean that the electrical equipment cannot be challenged by an enforcement authority if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement of the regulations.
You should also note that CE marking is not a European safety mark or quality symbol intended for consumers. Its purpose is to indicate to enforcement authorities that the electrical equipment is intended for sale in the EEA and signifies a declaration by the manufacturer or his authorised representatives that the equipment satisfies the requirements and is entitled to access those markets.
Non-CE marked electrical equipment
Suppliers of non-CE marked equipment may be required to submit information, if requested to do so, by an enforcement authority. Such information may include:
- the date when the electrical equipment was first supplied in the EEA
- why the electrical equipment does not bear CE marking
Marks other than CE marking
Other marks - eg an approval mark from a certification body - may appear on, or with, the equipment. However they cannot be used to declare compliance with the regulations. Only CE marking can be used for this purpose. Any other marks that are present must not reduce the visibility or legibility of CE marking.
Using electrical equipment on your own premises
Electrical equipment that is intended for use by you in your own premises is controlled by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. Such equipment must satisfy the safety requirements of the regulations, but need not have CE marking.
However, should you subsequently decide to supply the equipment - eg by selling it or hiring it out - it will be subject to the relevant provisions of the regulations, including the CE marking requirements.
Safety requirements for second-hand or hired electrical equipment
You should be aware of your responsibilities under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 if you supply electrical equipment that is:
- supplied in furnished premises
Second-hand electrical equipment
The safety of second-hand equipment that is supplied in the course of business - including auctions - is controlled by the regulations. However, it does not need to satisfy the CE marking requirement, and does not need the EC DoC or the technical documentation.
Equipment is classed as second-hand if it has previously been supplied to an end user in the EEA. An end user means the consumer, and includes commercial and industrial consumers.
While there is no mandatory requirement for second-hand equipment to undergo any safety testing, you must only supply equipment that is safe so as to avoid committing an offence under the regulations.
The supply of electrical equipment that is in need of reconditioning or repair to someone who carries on a business of repairing and reconditioning electrical equipment is excluded from the regulations. The sale of articles as scrap is also excluded.
Modified and refurbished electrical equipment
Modified and refurbished equipment are included within the scope of the regulations. Where equipment is refurbished to its original specification, it will be treated as second-hand equipment. However, if the refurbishment uses different types of components, it will be considered as modified electrical equipment.
Modified equipment will need to be assessed by the person carrying out the modifications to determine whether the modification may have introduced hazards or risks which were not covered by the original design. In this case, it is likely that the equipment would be considered as new equipment rather than second-hand equipment.
This will require the person carrying out the modification to carry out all of those exercises required of an original manufacturer. For example, preparation of technical documentation, drawing up an EC DoC and placing the CE marking on the product.
Hired/leased electrical equipment
The safety of electrical equipment that is hired out is also controlled by the regulations. If you supply such equipment, you must ensure that it satisfies the safety requirements. However, there is no requirement for the manufacturer’s brand name or trade mark to be printed on the electrical equipment or packaging.
Hired/leased equipment is to be considered as new equipment when it is supplied for the first time to an end user in the EEA, and as second-hand after this.
Electrical equipment in furnished accommodation
The regulations apply to any person who supplies electrical equipment in the course of business. So this includes the safety of any electrical equipment that is supplied as part of furnished accommodation. In this case it is treated as hired/leased equipment.
Estate agents, letting agents and anyone else who hires or lets furnished accommodation are strongly advised to seek their own independent legal advice.
Enforcement of the electrical equipment safety regulations
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 are primarily enforced by the local authority trading standards departments with regard to consumer products. The Health & Safety Executive enforce the regulations in respect of electrical equipment that is:
- designed for use or operation by persons at work
- designed for use otherwise than at work, in non-domestic premises made available for persons at a place where they may use the equipment
All electrical equipment to which CE marking has been affixed will be presumed to comply with all the requirements of the regulations. Where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that electrical equipment may not meet the requirements of the regulations, an enforcement authority should take appropriate enforcement action to remove the equipment from the market.
Where for reasons other than safety, an enforcement authority has reasonable grounds for suspecting that CE marking has been wrongly affixed, the authority may issue a compliance notice on you or your authorised representative. Reasonable grounds for suspecting CE marking is wrongly affixed would be, for example, if the equipment meets the safety requirements but does not comply fully with the other requirements of the regulations.
Compliance notices are intended to give you an opportunity to take action to correct the non-compliance. Enforcement action can only be taken if such a notice has been issued and not acted upon.
It is an offence to supply electrical equipment which does not comply with the requirements of the regulations. Any person committing an offence is liable - under summary conviction - to imprisonment, a fine or both.
Article 9 of the LVD requires EU member states to withdraw from the market, or to prohibit and restrict the supply of, electrical equipment bearing CE marking which does not comply with the safety requirements. They must immediately notify the European Commission and other member states of its action and give reasons.
In the event of an objection to a notification being raised by another member state(s), the Commission will immediately consult with the member states concerned. The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills is responsible for notifying the Commission and other member states of enforcement action taken in the UK, and receives details of enforcement action in other markets.
Role of the European Commission
It is only where a member state raises an objection to a notification made under the safeguard procedures that the Commission will become involved. In such circumstances they will consult with the member states concerned. If agreement between the states cannot be reached within three months of the Commission being informed, it will seek the opinion of a notified body on the safety of the equipment.
The Commission will then communicate the opinion of this body to the member states involved - who will have a period of one month to make their views known. If agreement still cannot be reached, the Commission will make their own recommendations/opinions to the member states involved.