Time bomb: is the industry ready for UKCA marking?

Douglas Masterson asks if the industry is ready for the imminent product marking changes

As reported in a previous AIJ article on this topic, the UK has developed a new National Compliance Mark as CE marking will cease to be used in Great Britain from 1 January 2022. The UKCA(UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that is used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). Northern Ireland will be able to continue using the CE mark or use the CE+UKNI mark due to the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.

One question being asked not just in our ironmongery industry, but also the wider construction industry is: are we ready for CE marking to be phased out at the end of 2021? The answer to this appears to be “no”.

Graham Hulland, dormakaba product marketing manager and GAI Technical Committee member, told me: “The UKCA mark is causing issues for us in terms of implementation. The requirements are clear in terms of mirroring CE marking, however the delay in agreement with MHCLG, UKAS and Approved Bodies has taken five months to agree and implement.

“With the Approved Bodies now being inundated with work to provide Certification to Manufacturers such as us we believe obtaining the Certification for UKCA Marking will take at least three months. Once we have this, we then have to apply the UKCA to product, packaging and installation instructions. This takes time with tooling needed on products for the UKCA and with a product portfolio of over 4,000 products that will be affected, four months is not sufficient time to implement the requirements into production, manufacture and ship into the UK for 1 January 2022.  We believe the delay in clarifying the requirements justifies an extension to the transition period and that 1st January 2023 for mandatory UKCA Marking is more realistic for producers.”

This response is not untypical of where many of our GAI members are. As we move past the mid-way point of 2021, we have a very short space of time to get ready.

We are not alone in this thinking either, Peter Capelhorn, chief executive of Construction Product Association recently stated in Building magazine that switching to the new certifications has been “immensely complicated” and admitted the changeover was now “in a bit of trouble”. So concerned is he by the issue, he said there was an argument for the UK to unilaterally extend the transition period for CE marking’s co-existence beyond the end of this year and he has already raised the issue in a meeting with UK construction minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan. He said that Trevelyan did not comment on the detail of his concerns but told him that her team would look into the points raised.

The GAI continues to make its members views heard on these matters. I represent the GAI in both the Construction Leadership Council Product Standards and Regulatory Alignment Group and the BSI Trade and Regulation Forum. Both these groups debate the impact of Brexit and UKCA marking on the construction industry and also provide opportunity to put views directly to Government. We will continue to lobby on our members’ behalf to extend the co-existence date beyond the end of 2021 and give industry a chance to be properly prepared for such a major change in product marking which will have a huge impact on the entire construction industry. n

Douglas Masterson is the GAI technical manager.

Further detail on UKCA marking can be found in the GAI Specifiers Guide to UKCA marking available on the GAI website. 

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