• The EU Regulation on the EU-wide sale of construction products (known generically in the UK as the construction products regulations) required CE (originally Conformite Europeenne) marking for most construction products from 1 July 2013. This will now become mandatory for fabricated structural steelwork used in many farm buildings in the UK from 1 July 2014.

    The new regulations affect manufacturers, distributors and importers of construction products in the EU. Subject to some small (but important) exceptions, such as bespoke products, all affected construction products will need to use CE marking.

    Whilst targeted at suppliers, the regulations are designed to improve products available and farmers would be well-advised to take advantage of this and ensure that they purchase steelwork and other products with the marking. Other key aspects are:

    • The “Basic Requirements” that all construction products have to meet will be updated to refer to health and safety performance throughout their life-cycle; and energy efficiency during construction and dismantling, rather than only energy efficiency in use.
    • A declaration of conformance and CE marking will become compulsory save for limited derogations.
    • The exceptions to compulsory CE markings will be limited They include bespoke products; products created on site for incorporation into the works on that site; and traditional and heritage conservation products.
    • Building materials containing hazardous substances will have to be labelled to protect the health and safety of building workers and other users. The declaration of performance will have to include information on hazardous substances, as required by the 2006 REACH Regulations.

    The new Regulation builds on the foundation of the current regime in that it maintains a system of harmonized technical specifications and an agreed system for manufacturers and others to declare that their products conform to each product family (such as some concrete products).

    Although the Regulation will take direct effect in the UK, it remains to be seen how and when the UK will implement the directive into national legislation. The government (and the Welsh Assembly) may choose to transpose the Regulation alongside any other changes to national legislation, such as the repeal or amendment of the Construction Products Regulations 1991 or any alteration to the Building Regulations 2010. However, the government has recently confirmed that it does not intend to gold-plate EU legislation, when incorporating it into national law.

    Compulsory CE marking will be a significant change for many UK products manufacturers. Whilst clearly relevant to consumers of steel products, UK manufacturers of these and other construction products on the EU market after 1 July 2013 may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage to other European companies unless they act soon.

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