Leaf chain and The Machinery Directive 2006/42

The Machinery Directive, Directive 2006/42/EC, is a European Union directive that is intended to ensure a certain level of safety in machinery and machine parts that are sold in the European Union. The directive, therefore, covers forklift trucks and other similar lifting equipment.

As leaf chain specialists we are often asked to consider how these standards and guidelines apply to leaf chains used in these types of machinery.

We would make the following comments in the context of the leaf chain that is part of a forklift truck or similar lifting equipment.  

A machine is defined in Article 2 of the Directive, and the obligations relating to the placing on the market and putting into service of machines can be found in Article 5. We are of the view that leaf chain does not constitute a machine and as such, does not need to meet the requirements of Article 5, which includes the need to bear a CE mark.

The specific requirements within the Directive with regard to chains, rope and webbing that we consider would be applicable to forklift leaf chain are:

Annex 1

Pulleys, drums, wheels, ropes and chains

Pulleys, drums and wheels must have a diameter commensurate with the size of the ropes or chains with which they can be fitted.

Drums and wheels must be designed, constructed and installed in such a way that the ropes or chains with which they are equipped can be wound without coming off.

Complete ropes and their endings must have a working coefficient chosen in such a way as to guarantee an adequate level of safety. As a general rule, this coefficient is equal to 5.

Lifting leaf chains must have a working coefficient chosen in such a way as to guarantee an adequate level of safety. As a general rule, this coefficient is equal to 4.

In order to verify that an adequate working coefficient has been attained, the manufacturer or his authorised representative must, for each type of leaf chain and rope used directly for lifting the load and for the rope ends, perform the appropriate tests or have such tests performed.

Annex 1 4.3.1

Information and marking. Chains, Ropes and Webbing

Each length of lifting chain, rope or webbing not forming part of an assembly must bear a mark or, where this is not possible, a plate or irremovable ring bearing the name and address of the manufacturer or his authorised representative and the identifying reference of the relevant certificate.

The certificate mentioned above must show at least the following information:

(a) the name and address of the manufacturer and, if appropriate, his authorised representative;

(b) a description of the chain or rope which includes:

  • its nominal size,
  • its construction,
  • the material from which it is made, and
  • any special metallurgical treatment applied to the material;

(c) the test method used; 

(d) the maximum load to which the chain or rope should be subjected in service. A range of values may be given on the basis of intended applications

At FB Chain, we supply a unique leaf chain test certificate for every order we dispatch and this is fully traceable back through the manufacturing process to the raw materials – you can find more on this in our blog post: Why a leaf chain test certificate is more than a piece of paper.

It’s important to bear in mind that this directive is generic and covers all types of chain used in lifting. CE marking is a self-certification scheme to demonstrate that machines comply with relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. It should not be seen as an endorsement of product quality or a sign that the product is manufactured in the European Union.   

For leaf and roller chain, most manufacturers would neither approve or recommend a design that only has a 4:1 safety factor as contained in the machinery directive as this is very much a minimum standard only.

In conclusion, we believe that leaf chain used on forklift type telehandler or lifting equipment must meet the requirements we’ve detailed above, but is not covered by Article 5 of the Directive and therefore should not directly bear a CE mark. We believe the key standard for leaf chains is ISO 4347:2015 which covers LL & LH (BL) leaf chains and their dimensional tensile and minimum fatigue requirements.

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