The TRA has welcomed the announcement last week of a new national regulator for construction products to be set up within the Office for Product Safety and Standards. The move comes as part of wider reforms to address systemic failings identified by the Hackitt Review.
The regulator will have the power to remove any construction product from the market that presents a significant safety risk and prosecute any companies who flout the rules on product safety. It will also have strong enforcement powers including the ability to conduct its own product testing when investigating concerns. Businesses must ensure that their products are safe before being sold in addition to testing products against relevant safety standards.
The regulator will work closely with Trading Standards and with the new Building Safety Regulator that is already up and running in shadow form.
The government has also commissioned an independent review to examine weaknesses in previous testing regimes for construction products, and to recommend how abuse of the testing system can be prevented. The review will be led by a panel of experts with regulatory, technical and construction industry experience and will report later this year with recommendations.
Nick Boulton, chief executive of the TRA, says:
“Of all the issues facing the construction industry, safety trumps everything. Of course, in a perfect world, any additional scrutiny on product manufacturers and the supply chain should not even be necessary. But we all know about the shocking shortcomings that have been revealed through the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, so any responsible organisation within this industry can only be delighted that poor practice and lack of enforcement is now going to be tackled properly, with dedicated resources at last.
“The TRA’s membership has redoubled its efforts over recent years to ensure higher safety standards, both in terms of the manufacturing and testing of trussed rafter products, spandrel and gable panels, metal web joists and related construction products, and also in their safe handling and installation on site. This remains the number one priority for the TRA and all our members.”
Examples of the TRA’s work to improve safety standards over the last year alone include:
- Promotion of new technical guidance for housebuilders on the correct design, manufacture and use of gable wall spandrel panels.
- Extensive fire testing of different types of trussed rafter ceiling constructions to ensure 30 minutes’ fire resistance in line with European Standards (and therefore, by default, the less onerous British Standards).
- Publication of a new technical card on the new ceiling construction details which show these fully-tested solutions for fire safety in new homes with trussed rafter roofs.
- Publication of a new safety card explaining the safe storage of trussed rafters and metal web joists during site closures.
- Development of a clear roadmap for housebuilders and other clients on the safe handling, storage and installation of a trussed rafter roof.
- Production of a very simple visual guide on the most important safety ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for trussed rafters on site.
- Promotion of these activities via TRA regional seminars and direct communications channels with the roofing and housebuilding industries.
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