What are we going to do?
The Building Safety Bill will enable the Secretary of State to strengthen the regulation of the marketing and supply of construction products in the UK.
We will use this power to set regulations requiring that construction products placed on the UK market are safe and can be used safely.
We will also use this power to identify and establish regulations for “safety critical” products (where failure of such products could result in serious injury or death). Among other requirements, we will ask manufacturers to provide clear and accurate performance information when bringing these products to market. This will allow designers and installers to make wise and informed choices about the products they use, to better enable them to design product combinations that will meet the requirements set out in building regulations.
We will strengthen the market surveillance and enforcement regime for construction products, so that safety issues can be identified and addressed, and action can be taken against those who fail to comply with regulations.
How are we going to do this?
We intend to ensure that all construction products made available on the UK market fall under a regulatory regime. The bill will create the power to make regulations for:
- require construction products to be safe before they can be placed on the UK market
- create a statutory list of “safety critical” construction product standards
It is expected that safety critical construction products will be identified with the assistance of industry and others, as the Secretary of State deems appropriate. Among other requirements, manufacturers will have to complete a declaration of performance for all safety-critical products to be placed on the market, put in place factory production controls and follow the specified system of assessment and verification of constancy of performance (AVCP) to ensure that the claimed performance is consistently achieved. This will allow the regulation of these products to be aligned with the provisions applicable to products covered by the existing regulatory framework.
The existing regulatory framework for construction products, which derives from EU law, will remain in place for Great Britain (EU law will continue to apply in Northern Ireland in accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol). The bill will create powers to allow the Secretary of State to expand or modify this scheme, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and continues to meet the needs of the UK market. The regulation of safety critical products and the safety requirement for construction products will extend to Northern Ireland.
We will strengthen the market surveillance and enforcement regime, so that compliance can be monitored and enforcement action can be taken if necessary. This includes the creation of powers to take action on false statements or other misleading or inaccurate claims about the performance of a construction product, for example claims made in marketing or in advertising material. We will do this by creating powers that can be exercised by local trade standards and the National Construction Products Regulator, which will be based at the Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).
The existing regulatory framework for construction products applies to products that are subject to a designated standard or that comply with an engineering assessment. In addition, some construction products used by consumers may fall under the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 for the products to be safe.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, it became clear that there are many building products that are not subject to a designated standard or that do not pass an engineering assessment, such as coatings in hazardous aluminum composite material (ACM). For these products, there is no general safety requirement and they are generally not covered by consumer protection legislation. As the marketing and supply of these products does not fall under the existing construction products regulatory regime, we cannot demand their withdrawal from the market, even if they cannot be used safely.
We intend to ensure that all construction products made available on the UK market fall under a regulatory regime. The bill will create powers to make regulations requiring products to be safe before they are placed on the UK market. It will also align the regulation of products identified as critical from a safety point of view with the provisions applicable to products covered by the existing regulatory regime. This will be supported by an appropriate market surveillance and enforcement regime.
Will the new processes make products safer?
Our proposed regulation will require construction products to be safe before they can be placed on the UK market, thereby minimizing any health and safety risks associated with their use.
We will work with industry to identify “safety critical” construction products that could cause death or serious injury if they fail. These will be required to operate according to specific standards.
Why is the safety of all construction products not critical?
Some construction products would have a greater impact than others on the health and safety of people if they failed. Products will be identified as “safety critical” when they could cause death or serious injury if they fail.
We recognize that products that are not identified as safety critical could also have an impact on health and safety. That is why we will require that products that are not safety critical meet a general safety requirement.
How do you want manufacturers to make sure building products are safe when there are so many ways to use them?
Manufacturers will need to assess the risks of their products based on their intended and likely uses, reduce those risks as much as possible, and provide information on the remaining risks.
This does not mean that manufacturers will have to consider all possible uses of the product.
We believe that this approach can be used pragmatically and proportionately for a wide variety of products as it already applies to consumer products.
What is a “safe” product?
A construction product is a “safe product” if, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, the product does not present any risk to the health or safety of persons or, if so, the risk is also low. as possible compatible with the use of the product.
“Use” includes storage, transportation or packaging.
“Reasonably foreseeable conditions” include reasonably foreseeable circumstances in which the construction product could be subjected to stress (eg fire).
Will construction product regulations apply in Northern Ireland?
To ensure everyone in the UK is equally protected, while recognizing our national and international obligations, the general safety requirement and critical product safety obligations will apply in Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, construction products for which a harmonized EU standard or European Technical Assessment applies will continue to be subject to the EU Construction Products Regulation 2011.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, it became clear that many construction products do not fall under the construction products regulatory framework. This means that they cannot be taken off the market, even though they cannot be used safely.
We want to make sure construction products are safe. This is the minimum requirement for all consumer products.
We will align the regulation of safety essential products with the provisions applicable to products covered by the existing regulatory regime.
How do you plan to reform the existing regulatory regime now that we have left the EU?
We will use these powers to end the recognition of the EU CE mark for compliance with construction products regulations in Britain.
If necessary, and if necessary, we can use these powers to support the implementation of future trade agreements related to construction products.
We will be able to set new product standards where appropriate, and as the market for construction products evolves, we will be able to reform the regulatory framework for construction products to make it work in the best way for our country.
The UK construction product regulatory framework currently covers 444 product families. These include certain masonry products (including bricks), structural steel, doors (including certain types of fire doors), windows and cables.