Today (1st July 2013) sees the way in which construction products are sold in Europe, face the most significant changes for a decade.
Since the implementation of the Construction Products Directive 1989 (CPD) many of our British Standards covering the production of construction products have been replaced by European Standards. The aim of the CPD was to ensure free movement of construction products within the European Union (EU) by introducing harmonised standards and European Technical Approvals allowing manufacturers to detail the performance of their products which they placed on the market through CE marking.
The UK was one of the few countries within the EU where CE marking for manufacturers remained voluntary. In recent years some Public Bodies have taken steps to specify CE marking as a necessary requirement for construction products used in their contracts e.g. the Highways Agency made CE marking for Bituminous mixtures a requirement through inclusion in the Specification for Highway Works.
However from today (1st July 2013), the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) will finally replace the Construction Products Directive (CPD). The most significant implication of this is that CE Marking will become mandatory in the UK for those products covered by a Harmonised European Standard (hEN) or conforms to a European Technical Assessment (ETA). Currently there are over 400 Harmonised Standards.
Products covered by CPR include:
• Cement, building lime, admixtures and aggregates;
• Structural bearings;
• Traffic furniture;
• Thermal insulation;
• Gas and electrical appliances;
• Manhole and inspection covers;
• Structural timbers;
• Geotextiles and Waterproofing membranes;
• Precast Concrete;
• Fire protection products;
• Windows and doors;
• Road Surfacing materials
What does CE Marking for construction products mean to manufacturers?
From today (1st July 2013), manufacturers of construction products covered by a hEN or ETA need to have their products CE marked in order to legally sell them anywhere within the EU, including the UK.
Regardless of who you are selling products to – Public or Private Bodies – CE marking is a legal requirement and will be enforced by Trading Standards. In addition, the person signing an organisations declaration for a product is assuming legal responsibility for the conformity of the construction product with its declared performance.
In UK law, false CE marking is considered a criminal offence with possible serious implications for organisations and/or individuals.
How will this affect clients/designers?
Clients, designers and those preparing specifications in the private sector need to be aware of CE marking and if they are using products covered by a hEN that they ask suppliers for proof of certification. The information contained should allow them to make comparisons between products as the methods of assessment, test and declaration of results will be the same.
For anyone involved in Public Procurement – either public bodies or private bodies acting as a public undertaking - these changes have much more serious implications as they should not specify the performance of products other than in accordance with the basic requirements covered by the harmonised section of the hEN or ETA under which the CE marking is applied.
This means that brand specific terms or terms which refer to materials of specific origin may only be used exceptionally as they could be regarded as a barrier to trade and therefore in breach of the Public Procurement Directive (PPD).
While the major manufacturers and producers should be well prepared for these changes from 1st July, some smaller companies may not be, and it could take them some time to get their CE marking in place. Until they do, they will be trading illegally if they continue to sell their products without CE marking and it is likely those that do have it will be quick to point the finger at those who don’t.
Similarly, those involved in the procurement of Public contracts need to be sure that they don’t fall foul of the requirements which CPR and PPD place on clients/designers by specifying brands when CE marking is in place.
There is a lot of advice and guidance out there to help both producers and designers including:
www.bbacerts.co.uk/ce-marking which includes a link to Guidance Note on the Construction Products Regulation;
Are you ready for CE Marking? Leave your questions and comments below.
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About the Author: Darren Lester is the founder of SpecifiedBy, and a Resident Entrepreneur in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.