Decision to indefinitely suspend the replacement of an EU product designation for safety testing with new UK version is not expected to apply to HVAC and construction goods
Manufacturers of construction and HVAC products are calling for urgent clarity from the government about the future use of the EU’s CE safety mark on their products.
The government this week announced that is has indefinitely suspended plans to introduce a new UKCA marking for a number of industries to show compliance with safety standards. This scheme was devised to replace the CE mark as part of a post-Brexit plan for certification and testing.
However, the announcement was unclear whether this suspension of the UKCA mark for industries working under the remit of the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) would also apply to the construction and HVAC sectors.
This UKCA mark was originally intended to be mandatory on all goods sold in the UK from 2022, but these requirements were eventually delayed until 2025. The decision was taken to address concerns from industry specialists about the testing capacity within the UK to obtain the right approvals to ensure goods could continue to be sold in the country by the deadline.
‘Ambiguity’ for construction and HVAC product makers
A range of trade bodies representing manufacturers of components and systems required by the building engineering and construction sectors have warned that there is continued ambiguity about whether they will still need to ensure the UKCA is present on its products by 2025. This clarification should also determine if a valid CE mark would otherwise be sufficient to show safety compliance on the UK market.
Actuate UK, an alliance of engineering services trade bodies including manufacturers, testing specialists and contractors, has warned that any continued ambiguity on the certification requirements could be detrimental to the industry and public confidence in the safety of its products.
Chris Yates, chief executive of Actuate UK member the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), said the announcement failed to address uncertainty about product testing and compliance for its members.
Mr Yates said that the announcement on suspending the implementation of the UKCA mark as a mandatory requirement for products sold in the country was only for a range of goods overseen by the DBT. It would not therefore apply to many construction goods.
“The industry has already made significant investment to make the move to UKCA and manufacturers had to decided which construction products to put on the market based on approval costs.”
It would now be crucial for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to decide whether it will remove the requirement for all construction and HVAC products to carry a valid UKCA mark by 30 June 2025.
Nick Mellor, managing director of Actuate UK member, the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA), said that the DBT statement meant it was now possible for lifts and other machinery produced by its members to carry the CE Mark indefinitely beyond 2024. This was seen as a welcome development for the sector. However, Mr Mellor said that a more comprehensive strategy was now needed with regards to UK testing requirements for all goods manufactured and sold in the country.
Other groups representing the construction sector have also called for the government to be clear on future plans for safety certification.
The Construction Products Association (CPA) said there was frustration and uncertainty among manufacturers of a range of products including HVAC equipment and components about requirements to carry the UKCA mark.
The association said it was obliged to continue to advise its members to prepare and ensure their goods can carry the UKCA mark to ensure they can continue to be sold in the country beyond the summer of 2025.
This advice would remain until the government can confirm it would be extending recognition of valid CE marks to other industries outside of the scope of the DBT.
Other critical concerns for the association was whether there would be sufficient testing capacity in the UK to ensure goods can carry a UKCA valid mark. It also has warned about the costs and regulatory burden for manufacturers to carry separate safety marks for products provided both in the UK and EU.
This uncertainty had led to some manufacturers announcing intentions to pull some products from the UK market, the CPA added.
CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn said that the DLUHC had clarified that the announcement about the indefinite extension of the CE mark would not pertain to products produced for use in construction and the built environment sector.
“The situation for our sector remains the same; that is, recognition of the CE mark for construction products in Great Britain will continue until 30 June 2025, when implementation of the UKCA marking scheme is set to become mandatory.”
“We fear that policy makers do not fully understand or appreciate the gravity of this policy position not only for our sector and the construction industry, but indeed for any government ambitions related to the UK’s housing, schools, hospitals, infrastructure and wider built environment.
Mr Caplehorn said he hoped to see the government commit to further discussions with the industry on addressing concerns about certification and safety marks.
“The CPA has long argued that every day that manufacturers have to wait for clarification from government causes more damage. This uncertainty has exacerbated product availability issues, led to UK and foreign manufacturers pulling products from the UK market, diminished investment and R&D, and therefore negatively impacted jobs and the ability of the product sector to support the UK construction industry every day.”
“We hope that the announcement reflects a new appreciation by policy makers of the cost and burden caused by the UKCA Mark scheme.”
Source: H&V News