Government to create new construction products regulator
The government is to create a National Construction Products Regulator to oversee the quality of building products.
The move follows the Grenfell Tower blaze in London that killed 72 people and subsequent testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry about dishonest practices, including deliberate attempts to game the system and rig the results of safety tests.
The creation of the role was announced on 19 January by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing.
The onus will be on companies to ensure their products are safe, not just compliant with standards. Robert Jenrick said it will not be enough for companies to test products against safety standards alone. They will have to ensure the products are safe before they are sold in addition to testing them against safety standards.
The National Construction Products Regulators will have the power to carry out their own tests and remove any product from the market that they consider presents a significant safety risk. The Regulator will be able to prosecute companies that flout rules on product safety.
The announcement follows recommendations in the Dame Judith Hackitt Review that industry and government must ensure construction products are properly tested, certified, labelled and marketed.
Although it is fire safety that has prompted the move, the manufacturers of many other products might be feeling a little nervous about what the appointment of the new Regulator might mean.
The Regulators will operate within the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS), which will be expanded and given up to £10million in funding to establish the new function. It will work with the Building Safety Regulator and Trading Standards to encourage and enforce compliance.
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. It will be led by a panel of experts with regulatory, technical and construction industry experience and will be told to report later this year with recommendations.