Architecture

New regulator is ‘response to disturbing allegations of malpractice heard by Grenfell Inquiry’

By 19/01/2021No Comments

A new regulator set up to monitor the safety of different construction products has been announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

The regulator for construction products will have the power to remove any product from the market that presents a significant safety risk and prosecute any companies who flout the rules on product safety. 

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Jenrick said the decision followed testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry that shone a light on the “dishonest practice” by some manufacturers of construction products.

He said: “The Grenfell Inquiry has heard deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice by some construction product manufacturers and their employees and of the weaknesses of the present product testing regime.

“We are establishing a national regulator to address these concerns and a review into testing to ensure our national approach is fit for purpose. We will continue to listen to the evidence emerging in the inquiry and await the judge’s ultimate recommendation – but it is already clear that action is required now and that is what we are doing.”

The regulator will have 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 safety standards.

The announcement follows recommendations in the review carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt that said the industry and government must ensure construction products are properly tested, certified, labelled and marketed.

>> Also read: Kingspan staff joked ‘all we do is lie’ about products’ fire safety

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Responding to the announcement Hackitt said: “The evidence of poor practice and lack of enforcement in the past has been laid bare.

“As the industry itself starts to address its shortcomings I see a real opportunity to make great progress in conjunction with the national regulator.”

The regulator will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards, which will be expanded and given up to £10m in funding to establish the new function. It will work with the new 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 report later this year with recommendations.

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