National laws on product safety, product liability and occupational safety also play a role. There are also a number of standards and directives that may be applied depending on the product in question.
For machines, there is obviously the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Not only does this directive cover the requirements for the design and placing on the market of the machine, it also includes the requirements for the machine’s technical documentation. For example, the documents that must be provided with the machine and what must be included in the operating instructions.
There are also now standards for software products, which provide guidance to technical writers, such as the ISO/IEC/IEEE 26511 – 26515 series of standards or ISO/IEC 18019:2004. These standards are aimed specifically at software and cover the planning and approach, the creation process and usability tests or working in an agile environment.
There are also other standards and directives which apply to other areas and are relevant to technical documentation, such as the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive or standards and laws for medical devices.