SNV Story No. 7: A preface to the standard clarifies the connections to Swiss law

Expert profile of Peter Woysch

An almost limitless variety of standards exists on the national and international levels for virtually all areas. Standards are developed in many different committees and in collaboration with experts from diverse backgrounds. But how can we actually ensure that a given standard will not neglect national legislation?

SNV met with Peter Woysch from the Federal Office of Transport, Department of Safety/Navigation section to discuss his duties in the area of standardization. An expert in the standardization of recreational craft, he went to sea and knows maritime requirements inside out. Today, he works more in the background, checking for any discrepancies between Swiss law and the European ( EN) ISO standards on behalf of his office. In the event of such conflicts, the Federal Office of Transport has the possibility of requesting Swiss deviations from EN standards in Annex A.

Image caption: Peter Woysch is en expert in the standardization of recreational craft since 2019.

1. SNV: You check standards in the recreational sector as to the necessity of a national preface or A-deviation. Why are such measures required?
Peter Woysch: The information contained in a national preface contributes to the introduction or better understanding of standards. It cannot alter any provisions of the European standard, its purpose is to describe relationships to other standards or connections to Swiss law, for example. An A-deviation is required if the standard describes technical solutions not in line with Swiss regulations because Swiss law is stricter than the European standard. An A-deviation is an amendment, addition or deletion affecting the content of a European standard and reflecting national conditions that themselves rest on regulations whose amendment does not currently lie within the competence of the national CEN Member (in Switzerland, the SNV).

2. Could you give an example of such an A-deviation?
Take, for example, the Swiss standard SN EN ISO 13590:2018: “Small craft – Personal watercraft – Construction and system installation requirements”. The limits set down in the Swiss Inland Navigation Ordinance (INO) for the driving power of personal watercraft make the use of personal watercraft on Swiss inland waterways technically impossible.

3. How do you ensure that standardization will not conflict with legal provisions?
The Navigation section of the FOT is in charge of regulations in the recreational craft sector. Amendments to international and European standards in the recreational craft sector are constantly reviewed by the Navigation section. Amendments conflicting with Swiss laws or regulations will therefore be identified at an early stage.

4. In which committees directly concerned with the standardization process are you a member?
The Navigation section is a member of the SNV committee INB/NK 2015 “Shipbuilding and maritime structures”. In addition, we participate in the market surveillance group for the European Recreational Craft Directive (RCD), 2013/53/ EU. This group is called Advisory Committee for the Recreational Craft Directive (ADCO-RCD).

5. How often do you meet?
The market surveillance group for the European Recreational Craft Directive, 2013/53/ EU, ADCO-RCD, generally meets twice a year in alternating member states of the EU.

6. Are these duties practically legal in nature?
For the most part, we concern ourselves with maritime and nautical issues. These issues are closely related to legal ones, however, especially with regard to Swiss laws and regulations. If need be, we consult with our office’s legal department.

7. What standards are you currently working on?
At present, I’m working on the standard SN EN ISO 11591:2019 “Small craft – Field of vision from the steering position”. There is a need for discussion within the market surveillance committee and possibly for adaptation of the standard.

8. How important is environmental protection in the standardization of recreational craft?
Environmental protection is of great importance. Swiss law is even stricter than European standards in many areas. One example concerns water protection, operating noise and the regulations governing fuel tanks.

9. For which areas (lakes/ships, etc.) is your office responsible? And where do the cantons have responsibility?
The Navigation section of the FOT is responsible for elaborating legal bases, such as the Swiss Inland Navigation Ordinance (INO) and the Swiss Shipbuilding Ordinance (ShipBO). All federally licensed maritime companies are supervised by the Navigation section. It issues navigation permits for passenger ships of these companies on Swiss waterways and conducts examinations for skippers. The cantons are responsible for implementing the regulations, and for supervising recreational boating and water sports. The cantons are also responsible for the registration of recreational craft and the approval of recreational craft skippers.

10. Are you also responsible for harmonizing standards in the maritime sector? What are your duties in this regard?
The European standardization organizations are responsible for the content of the harmonized standards. Previous national standards, such as DIN standards, are submitted to the standardization organization and thereby harmonized, or “Europeanized”, so to speak. Switzerland contributes to this harmonization through the SNV, to which the Navigation section belongs as a member.

11. What are you currently working on?
In addition to various conversion projects for passenger ships of the licensed maritime companies and multifarious questions about recreational boating, in the recreational craft sector I deal with issues such as possible procedures for approving and assessing new kinds of water sport equipment. The priority for us always lies on the safety aspects of the equipment and its potential risk to other waterway users, as well as the environmental safety of new kinds of equipment.

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