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Mechanical engineering

Noise emissions from outdoor equipment

Grungy pneumatic hammer lying on the ground © George Dolgikh -

Directive 2000/14/EC

The Outdoor equipment directive (Directive on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors) is the main piece of EU legislation on noise emissions from outdoor equipment.


57 types of equipment, named directly on the face of the directive and predominantly machinery, which are used outdoors, for example on construction sites or in public or private parks and gardens


  • to enable the free circulation of such equipment within the internal EU market through harmonisation of the relevant technical requirements on noise emissions (sound power levels);
  • to protect those in the immediate environment where the equipment is being used, and also the operators of such equipment, from the potentially harmful effects of those emissions.

Main provisions

  • for 35 types (as listed in Article 13), marking of the guaranteed sound power level through a label;
  • for the remaining 22 types (as listed in Article 12), marking as above but the level must, in addition, be below a specified limit value laid down by the directive;
  • Article 12 laid down two stages for these limit values, ‘Stage I’ from when the directive came into force in January 2002 and a more demanding set, ‘Stage II’, from January 2006;
  • amending directive, 2005/88/EC, made the Stage II limits indicative for some types of equipment where the new limits were not going to be technically feasible in time for the deadline;
  • the procedures and operating conditions for taking these measurements are laid down in harmonised standards (referred to directly in Annex III of the directive);
  • mandatory third party conformity assessment process for Article 12 products, self-certification for Article 13.

Latest developments

Almost all of the 57 types of equipment are also in the scope of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC and both directives address problems from noise emissions, with the Machinery directive focussing largely on the occupational safety of the operator (amongst many other health and safety concerns and a much wider scope of products) and the OED on the overall environmental effects.

The European Commission is investigating, as part of its wider administrative simplification agenda, whether there is a case for merging the two directives. A team of consultants reported their conclusions on this in early 2014 and the Commission is presently making its own assessment of these, in partnership with the relevant stakeholders, before determining the appropriate way forward. The consultants' report is available upon accessing the 'Guidance and studies' page under 'More information' immediately below.

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