Howard G Davies and Associates

European Directives & Standards

The last 15 years has seen a whole raft of legislation which affects products used in the fitness industry. While many are seen as only applying to manufacturers and importers, recent changes mean that distributors, gym owners, operators and instructors can also be affected by such legislation, if they do not take reasonable steps to ensure the products they are purchasing or using meet these standards.

EC Directives

In Europe and the UK, fitness equipment is required to comply with the relevant EU Directives, published by the EC. These include directives relating to electrical safety such as the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive and the Low Voltage Directive (LVD).

Fitness products with electrical or electronic components need to meet these requirements and must be supplied with an EU Declaration of Conformity from the manufacturer, or from the importer or distributor in the EU, to show compliance, before the CE mark can be correctly applied.

In addition to the above Directives, there are many recent directives which apply to environmental issues such as Directives on Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) – others including RoHS and the Battery Directives which restrict the use of hazardous substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium in batteries and all electrical and electronic components which also affects the disposal and recycling of these products.

Most recently the Energy Related Products Directive (ErP) has a series of compulsory legal implementing measures affecting the design and maximum permissible power consumption of TV monitors/Electric Motors/External Power Supplies including Standby Mode of all Cardiovascular (CV) equipment.

CV fitness products in particular are affected by these Directives and all manufacturers, importers, distributors, should ensure that the products they are manufacturing, importing, distributing meet these requirements and are correctly marked, since each one has a legal responsibility.

European & British Standards (CEN Standards)

The British Standard, published by the British Standards Institution (BSI), which applies to fitness products, is the EN 957 standard, which has also recently been adopted by ISO as an International Standard ISO 20957.

The standard is published in 10 parts – Part 1 General applies to all products, but in addition there are specific requirements for popular equipment such as Part 6 Treadmills, Part 9 Elliptical trainers, Part 5 Bikes, Part 7 Rowers and Part 2 Strength equipment.

As an example, many gym owners are unaware the requirements of the treadmill standard BS EN 957 - 6, state that there must be a clear space of 2 metres behind treadmills for safety.

It is commonly assumed that these standards are voluntary. However the introduction of the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) published in 2004, requires that all fitness products mandated by this Directive, should meet the essential health and safety requirements of the Directive and the relevant harmonised Stationary Training Equipment Standards EN 957 & EN ISO 20957 (Parts 1 – 10).

As harmonized standards, these standards carry a ‘presumption of conformity’ under the law. Failure to comply would mean that a court is almost certain to find against the manufacturer or distributor in the event of any accident involving the product or the gym.

Ignorance of these regulations by manufacturers or distributors is not a defence in law and owners and operators should ensure that their equipment purchases meet the respective Directives and Standards.
Contact us on 01633 251 222 or fill out our contact us form for further advice on what EU and UK Regulations your product requires to meet..
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"Howard Davies’ proven expertise on the application and interpretation of standards in the fitness industry will prove both useful and commercially beneficial for members dealing with what is often a very complex subject."
Pete Wells Quality Manager – UK Active
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