I think this week’s FiT Show is going to throw up many questions about the impending CE Marking which is going to take effect from July 1st. Some of the commentary on Twitter over the past few days has centered around certain conditions for smaller companies and how the overall scheme is going to be policed.
The latter point I think is going to become one of the most important issues to the industry. Deep down, our sector isn’t really against change. I think that we’re happy to embrace it, providing that the changes are going to be genuinely useful, a benefit to the wider industry and trustworthy. The growing concern here, as as been with other sector-wide changes, is how CE Marking is going to be policed.
At the moment, I have not been made aware by anyone as to who is actually going to monitor the system and make sure that all companies are compliant by July 1st. The wider question really is who is capable of policing a system effectively on a nation-wide basis? Could the industry’s self-assessing bodies do it? Organisations like FENSA, Certass and Network Veka probably have the money, staff and logistical skills to cover CE Marking effectively. However, this isn’t something that would be done just for free by the self-assessors, so probably isn’t an option.
So who else could oversee CE Marking in the UK? Take a look at this paragraph from the Planning Portal website: The European Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC) which seeks to remove technical barriers to the trade of construction products will remain in force until 1 July 2013 when it will be repealed and fully replaced by the Construction Products Regulation. The Directive is implemented in the UK through the Construction Products Regulations 1991 as subsequently amended. These regulations will be revoked and replaced by new UK regulations also coming into force on 1 July 2013.
Looking at the language in that snippet, there is a fair chance the CE Marking is just going to be overseen by the Government, in which case CE Marking in our industry is as good as unregulated. The Government simply won’t have the time, money, personnel or effort to carry out such things like random spot checks on companies to make sure they have all the relevant paperwork and CE Marks to prove compliance. Which means in reality, if any cases of non-compliance are to be found, they will come about by other companies or trades peoples reporting non-compliant companies to their local council. Even then, very little is likely to be done.
This is where self-assessment organisations like FENSA do do some good. Their policy of 3 spot-checks per year on all registered companies is at least an attempt to scare companies into making sure that they stick to the rules. Of course in reality we all know it isn’t that simple, but at the very least it’s an effort.
If the industry it to get itself ready in time, and take it seriously, CE Marking has to be governed officially, properly and those governing it have to have teeth. If a company is found not to be compliant, an actual, substantial punishment has to be applied to make it clear to the rest of the industry that CE Marking is serious and not to be thought of half-baked!
Of course, if any of you out there know or have some reliable information as to how and who will be be overseeing CE Marking, please feel free to leave a comment below!