The engineering services industry body Actuate UK has issued a warning of serious consequences for businesses, public and commercial projects as well as domestic customers in just six months if a major issue regarding product compliance and marking standard is not resolved, and calls for an extension of the transition time to the new provisions to avoid delays and allow all products to be tested and accredited.
The government expects that the new ‘UKCA’ brand will fully replace the established EU ‘CE’ product brand across the country by the end of this year. The purpose of CE and UKCA markings is to show that products comply with essential health, safety and environmental protection legislation.
However, the problem with the limited transition period is exacerbated by the lack of UKCA accredited bodies and the lack of available capacity in current certification bodies and product testing facilities to reliably verify that existing or new products meet UKCA criteria. As such, if an engineering services product manufactured or imported in the UK that is to show these essential characteristics cannot display a UKCA mark by the end of 2021, this will leave manufacturers and installers, the customers and the public facing serious quality and contractual issues. In some product categories, the industry estimates that 64 years of new testing will be needed, and we currently only have seven months.
The problem affects a wide range of engineered products installed for the home and commercial sectors, and it could lead to a series of installation cancellations, delays and contractual issues for the supply chain and its customers. Members of Actuate UK are covering the entire process of planning, testing and installing these products and they fear it could cripple the industry, as it still recovers from the pandemic.
To avoid the looming crisis and help a sensible transition to UKCA marking, Actuate UK says it is working with others in the construction and service industries and calls for the government to continue to recognize CE marking until at least the end of 2022. Actuate UK adds that during this period, products used in Britain should be allowed to bear one or both brands.
Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) CEO Russell Beattie explained: “It’s not just a matter of manufacturers not preparing for a deadline and is inextricably linked to capacity within the ever-developing cohort of UKCA accredited bodies. This problem is not limited to our sector either. As businesses attempt to rebuild after the challenges of Covid-19, the government is being urged to take the pragmatic step of extending the transition period. We understand this has been done in the case of medical devices, so there is a reasonable precedent for this. “