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Construction Products Regulation

BACKGROUND AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES


The construction industry has been facing the most significant change for a decade in the way in which construction products are sold in Europe. From 1 July 2013, under the Construction Products Regulation 2011 (CPR), it has become mandatory for manufacturers to apply CE marking to any of their products which are covered by a harmonised European Standard or European Technical Assessment (ETA). This is a major change as affixing of CE marking under the provisions of the previously existing Construction Products Directive (CPD) has been voluntary in the UK.


The CPR builds upon the CPD and aims to break down technical barriers to trade in construction products within the European Economic Area (EEA). To achieve this, the CPR provides for four main elements:


  • A system of harmonised technical specifications.

  • An agreed system of conformity assessment for each product family.

  • A framework of notified bodies.

  • CE marking of products.


CE marking enables a product to be placed legally on the market in any Member State and indicates that a product is consistent with its Declaration of Performance (DoP) as made by the manufacturer.


The CPR harmonises the methods of assessment and test, the means of declaration of product performance and the system of conformity assessment of construction products, but NOT national building regulations. The CPR places legal responsibilities not solely on manufacturers and their authorised representatives, but also importers and distributors who must assure themselves that the manufacturer has undertaken all that is required to comply with the CPR. The importer’s or distributor’s name and contact details must appear on the product, labelling or associated documents.


The scope of the CPR is limited to regulated issues under seven basic requirements for construction works:


  1. Mechanical resistance and stability.

  2. Safety in case of fire.

  3. Hygiene, health and the environment.

  4. Safety and accessibility in use.

  5. Protection against noise.

  6. Energy economy and heat retention.

  7. Sustainable use of natural resources.

 

Requirements vary between EU Member States and often relate directly to national regulations. Therefore, although a product may have CE marking it may not be suitable for particular applications or for use within some Member States, even though the marking allows it to be placed on the market there. Responsibility for ensuring that a product has the correct characteristics for a particular application rests with the designers, contractors and local building authorities.

 

IMPLICATIONS FOR MANUFACTURERS AND OTHER OPERATORS


The manufacturer, by drawing up the DoP, assumes the responsibility for the conformity of the construction product with the declared performance. The application of the CE mark follows the DoP and effectively certifies that the manufacturer has strictly followed all the applicable procedures in drawing up the DoP and that, consequently, the DoP is accurate and reliable.  


An importer or distributor is considered a manufacturer under the CPR where they place a product on the market under their company name or trademark, or modify a construction product already placed on the market in such a way that conformity with the DoP may be affected.


To reduce the cost to micro-enterprises (defined as those with less than 10 employees and either a turnover or balance sheet total below €2m) of placing construction products on the market, simplified procedures apply for products that are not safety critical.


Other important actions for the manufacturer include:


  • Keeping the technical documentation for a period of 10 years after the construction product has been placed on the market.

  • Keeping a register of all complaints about a product’s non-conformance or product recalls, and keeping distributors informed of any product recalls.

  • Adherence to specific marking requirements.

  • Supplying instructions and safety information in the language of the Member State in which the product is being sold.

  • Taking immediate corrective measures if a product is found not to be in conformity with the DoP.

  • Ensuring that the product maintains its conformity with the DoP after storage and distribution.

  • Providing all relevant information about a product if a request is made by a competent national authority.


Before placing a construction product on the market, distributors must ensure that the product, where required, bears the CE marking and is accompanied by the correct documentation, instructions and safety information. Distributors must also ensure that the manufacturer and the importer have complied with their requirements under the CPR.


Other important actions for importers and distributors include:


  • Withholding a product from the market if they believe the product is not in conformity with the DoP.

  • Passing on all relevant documentation whenever they make a sale.

  • Ensuring that the product maintains its conformity with the DoP after storage and distribution.

  • Providing all relevant information about a product if a request is made by a competent national authority.


Failure to comply with any provision of the CPR would be considered a breach of the Regulation and may give rise to formal action on the part of the relevant enforcement authority. For certain offences the penalties may include a fine, imprisonment or both.

                                                          

NOTIFIED BODIES


Notified bodies are the product certification bodies, factory production controls certification bodies and testing laboratories considered to be competent to carry out the conformity assessment tasks required in the CPR. Such bodies are first approved by their respective Member States to carry out certain tasks, and then notified to the European Commission and other Member States. They may also be referred to as ‘approved bodies’ or ‘designated bodies’.


Once a harmonised technical specification is available for their product, a manufacturer is required to use a notified body and will be able to approach any such body in the EEA that has been notified for the appropriate harmonised technical specification, for assessment according to the appropriate conformity assessment procedure. They do not have to use a body operating in the same country as the place of manufacture or where the product is to be used.


With respect to the function of notified bodies involved in the Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP) for construction products, distinction must be made between:


  • Testing laboratory: a notified laboratory which measures, examines, tests, calibrates or otherwise determines the characteristics or performance of materials or construction products.

  • Factory production control certification body: a notified body possessing the necessary competence and responsibility to carry out factory production control certification in accordance with given rules of procedure and management.

  • Product certification body: a notified body possessing the necessary competence and responsibility to carry out product certification in accordance with given rules of procedure and management.


Notified bodies are required to demonstrate competence covering all the third-party tasks within the relevant scope for which they have been notified, which in the UK involves UKAS accreditation.

 

TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT BODIES (TAB)


These are organisations designated by their respective Member States as competent to produce European Assessment Documents, assess products and, on this basis, to issue ETAs. The name and address of each TAB and the product areas for which it is designated are communicated to the European Commission and other Member States.


The process of issuing the ETA in the first instance is a separate process from the subsequent AVCP procedures. Hence, once an ETA has been issued for a product, where relevant the manufacturer is free to choose another body to carry out the conformity assessment procedures.


Technical Assessment Bodies carry out assessments and issue European Technical Assessments in the product areas (listed in the CPR Annex IV) for which they have been designated.

 

 BS EN 1090 AND CE MARKING OF STRUCTURAL METALWORK


Owing to pending alterations to BS EN 1090 at the time of introduction, the implementation of CPR to structural metalwork has been delayed and will now take effect from 1 July 2014.


This represents a major development in the legal obligations it places on the construction industry supply chain in terms of manufacturers, importers and distributors and demands careful attention.


Any ‘series’ manufactured structural metal components or kits (defined as ‘a set of structural components to be assembled and installed on site’) that have been either made in the UK or imported, and to which a harmonised European Standard applies, must comply with the CPR and CE marking requirements.


The harmonised European Standard applying to structural metalwork is BS EN 1090-1: Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures - Requirements for conformity assessment of structural components and the supporting parts, BS EN 1090-2: Technical requirements for steel structures and BS EN 1090-3: Technical requirements for aluminium structures.


The regulations apply to a wide range of activities involving ‘series’ manufactured items including:


  • Manufacturers of metal components or kits that have a structural use in civil engineering.

  • Importers of structural metalwork kits or components.

  • Stockholders and metal processors that modify stock - for example by drilling, painting, bending, electroplating etc.


By ‘series’, the regulations mean any activity that an organisation carries out more than once, not just the production of a series of standard items. For example, a factory that makes bespoke staircases is in the business of ‘series’ manufacture of staircases and all of them will need to carry a CE mark.  If the same factory produces a single platform as a special commission, this will be exempt.  However, if the factory decides to diversify into platforms and makes more than one, CE marking will be required.


Organisations covered by CPR will need to show that they comply with BS EN 1090-1, which involves a number of steps that culminate in certification by an accredited (in the UK by UKAS) notified inspection body. BS EN 1090-1 requires a number of actions to be in place, many of which will already be standard practise in well managed companies:


  • Purchasing systems will need to buy only CE Marked sections, bolts and welding consumables.

  • Designers will identify the execution class of the product, as defined in the companion standard BS EN 1090-2, which is determined by the potential risk to the public if the component or structure fails.  The designers will also need well-defined specifications for components and kits.

  • Prototypes will be produced and subjected to initial type testing.  Where type


    testing is impractical, for example on bespoke designs, the company can use calculations to serve the same purpose.

  • Type testing is used to define Key Control Checks.  These are monitored within a quality control system, called Factory Production Control (FPC).  The FPC system also covers design and drawing controls; competence and training of staff; equipment maintenance and calibration; control of non-conforming product and keeping of records.  If a company has ISO 9001, this covers the requirement for a FCP system.


Where welding is part of the process, a Welding Quality Management system is needed, and this must conform to BS EN ISO 3834.  The company should either employ, or have access to, a Responsible Welding Coordinator to control their welding quality management system.

 

SURVEY EXPECTATIONS


For all surveys of policyholders involved in the construction industry supply chain for which products liability cover applies, it is important that Consultants undertake investigations into the area of CPR compliance and the ongoing responsibilities which attach as detailed above, and that appropriate details regarding CPR status are incorporated in the report.

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