It has been one year since CE marking under the Construction Products Regulation (“CPR”) became mandatory on 1 July 2013, and the construction industry has faced the most significant change for a decade in the way in which construction products are sold in Europe. This frequently misunderstood legal requirement continues to be a challenge for manufacturers and distributors wishing to trade within the European Economic Area (“EEA”).
Garnering much attention lately has been the impact of the CPR on the UK’s steel sector. It has been mandatory for manufacturers of steel and aluminium to CE mark their construction products from last year. What has brought the issue to the fore is that as of yesterday (1 July 2014) all fabricators of structural steelwork and structural aluminium structures must also CE mark the structures they manufacture because the applicable harmonised standard (EN 1090-1) requiring them to affix CE marking did not become fully operational until (yesterday), a full one year after the CE marking became mandatory under the CPR. This now puts fabricated structural steelwork and structural aluminium structures on an equal footing with all other construction products covered by the CPR.
The main concern here is that there appears to be a large number of fabricators who are not members of The British Constructional Steelwork Association and have not been keeping themselves abreast of changes in the requirements brought in under the EN 1090-1. These requirements are more onerous than for other construction products because there is a need for fabricators to appoint a responsible welding co-ordinator and implement a Welding Quality Management System to internally oversee the fabricator’s capability for working to their maximum Execution Class. This Execution Class must be stated in the welding certificate, which is one of three documents that a fabricator requires to demonstrate their right to CE mark products.
The concern here is that it takes time to achieve all this, and companies only just starting the process now – after the 1 July deadline – will not be able to supply products that are required to be CE marked. Supplying such products without a CE mark is now illegal.
In truth, fabricators have had adequate time to prepare for this change. For those that have not yet engaged in this process there is a genuine risk that they could temporarily lose market share. With this in mind, we encourage firms that need help to contact the BCSA with their questions.