What are we going to do?
The Building Safety Bill will enable the Secretary of State to strengthen regulations for the marketing and supply of construction products in the United Kingdom.
We will use this power to make regulations to require that construction products placed on the UK market are safe, and can be used safely.
We will also use this power to identify and make regulations for ‘safety critical’ products (where the failure of such products would risk causing serious injury or death). Amongst other requirements, we will require manufacturers to supply clear and accurate performance information when placing such products on the market. This will enable designers and installers to make good, informed choices about the products they use, to better enable them to design combinations of products 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 concerns can be identified and dealt with, and action can be taken against those who do not comply with the regulations.
How are we going to do it?
It is our intention to make sure all construction products made available on the UK market fall under a regulatory regime. The Bill will create powers to make regulations to:
- 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 intended safety critical construction products will be identified with the assistance of industry and others as the Secretary of State considers appropriate. Amongst other requirements, manufacturers will be required 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 met. This will bring the regulation of these products in line with arrangements for 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 (European Law will continue to apply in Northern Ireland as per the Northern Ireland Protocol). The Bill will create powers to enable the Secretary of State to extend or amend this regime, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and continues to meet the needs of the GB market. The regulation of safety critical products and the requirement for construction products to be safe will extend to Northern Ireland.
We will strengthen the market surveillance and enforcement regime, so that compliance can be monitored and enforcement action taken where necessary. This includes creating powers that allow for action to be taken where false statements or other misleading or inaccurate claims are made about the performance of a construction product, for example claims made in marketing, or advertising materials. We will do this through creating powers that can be exercised by local Trading Standards and the National Regulator for Construction Products, which will be based in the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).
The existing regulatory framework for construction products applies to products that are subject to a designated standard or which conform to a technical assessment. In addition, some construction products that are used by consumers may fall under the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 for products to be safe.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, it became apparent that there are many construction products which are not subject to a designated standard or which do not conform to a technical assessment, such as unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding. For these products, there is no general safety requirement, nor are they usually covered by consumer protection legislation. As the marketing and supply of these products does not fall within the existing construction products regulatory regime, we cannot require them to be withdrawn from the market, even if they cannot be used safely.
It is our intention to make sure all construction products made available on the UK market fall under a regulatory regime. The Bill will create powers to make regulations to require products to be safe before they are placed on the UK market. It will also bring the regulation of products identified as being safety critical in line with arrangements for products that are covered by the existing regulatory regime. This will be underpinned by an appropriate market surveillance and enforcement regime.
Will the new processes make products safer?
Our proposed regulations will require construction products to be safe before they can be placed on the UK market, minimising any risk to health and safety through their use.
We will work with industry to identify ‘safety critical’ construction products that could cause death or serious injury if they were to fail. These will be required to perform to specific standards.
Why aren’t all construction products safety critical?
Some construction products would have a greater impact than others on the health and safety of people if they were to fail. Products will be identified as ‘safety critical’ where they could cause death or serious injury if they were to fail.
We recognise that products which are not identified as safety critical could also have an impact on health and safety. That is why we will require products that are not safety critical to meet a general safety requirement.
How do you expect manufacturers to make sure construction products are safe when there are so many ways in which they can be used?
Manufacturers will need to assess the risks of their products according to their intended and likely uses, reduce those risks as far as possible and provide information about any remaining risks.
This does not mean that manufacturers will have to consider every feasible use of the product.
We believe this approach can be used pragmatically and proportionately for a wide variety of products because it already applies for 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 it does, the risk is as low as it can be compatibly with using the product at all.
“Use” includes storage, transportation or packaging.
“Reasonably foreseeable conditions” include reasonably foreseeable circumstances in which the construction product might come under stress (for example, a fire).
Will the construction products regulations apply in Northern Ireland?
To ensure that everybody in the United Kingdom is equally protected, whilst acknowledging our national and international obligations, the general safety requirement and the safety critical products obligations will apply in Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, construction products where an EU harmonised standard or a European Technical Assessment applies will continue to be subject to the EU Construction Products Regulation 2011.
Can you justify the regulations placing a significant extra burden on businesses?
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, it became apparent that many construction products do not fall under the construction products regulatory framework. This means that they cannot be withdrawn from the market, even if they cannot be used safely.
We want to ensure that construction products are safe. This is the minimum requirement for all consumer products.
We will bring the regulation of safety critical products in line with arrangements for 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 recognition of the EU’s CE marking evidencing compliance with construction products regulation in Great Britain.
Where necessary, and where required, we can use these powers to support the implementation of future trade deals that relate to construction products.
We will be able to set new product standards where appropriate and, as the construction product market changes, we will be able to reform the construction products regulatory framework so it works in a way that is best for our nation.
The GB construction products regulatory framework currently covers 444 product families. These include certain masonry products (including bricks), structural steel, doors (including some types of fire doors), windows and cables