226: Construction Product Safety and The Building Safety Bill
The Building Safety Bill is described by Government as an ‘unapologetically ambitious, world-class building safety regulatory regime’ holding all those involved in the home building industry to the same standard. It will be the next step, after the Fire Safety Act, to deliver change following the Grenfell tragedy.
The recent House of Lords debate raised concerns over the corner-cutting culture of the industry. The Grenfell Inquiry has heard evidence from suppliers admitting to making misleading claims about rigged fire tests. In the fire on 14 June 2017, Celotex’s foam (RS5000) fuelled the flames and released toxic gases and smoke. (The foam was withdrawn from the market nine days after the fire).
The Bill aims to strengthen regulatory oversight for firms that manufacture and sell construction products. It will also create powers to remove unsafe construction products from the market and take action against lawbreakers – including criminal sanctions. A new regulator, who will have enforcement powers including powers to enter sites and conduct its own product-testing, will be created.
A construction product is:
‘any product or kit which is produced and placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works or parts thereof and the performance of which has an effect on the performance of the construction works with respect to the basic requirements.’
It is expected that there will be:
- a new general safety requirement for products to be safe before they can be placed on the UK market;
- a new general safety requirement for products that are already on the UK market; and
- a list of ‘safety-critical products’ (where their failure would result in death or serious injury) which will need to comply with a designated standard.
Whilst we wait for the Building Safety Bill, a Code for Construction Product Information has been developed in response to Dame Hackitt’s report.
The code will have 11 clauses which product manufacturers who sign up to the code must agree to abide by. Using products that comply with this code could assist defined duty holders to demonstrate their compliance with building regulations throughout the construction.