Engineering services sector body Actuate UK has issued a warning about serious consequences for businesses, public and commercial projects as well as domestic customers in only six months if a major issue regarding product compliance and standard marking is not resolved, and is calling for an extension of the transition time to the new arrangements to avoid delays and allow all products to be tested and accredited.
The Government plans for the new ‘UKCA’ Mark to entirely replace the established EU ‘CE’ product Mark across the country by the end of this year. The aim of both CE and UKCA marking is to show that products meet essential health, safety and environmental protection legislation.
However, the problem with the limited transition period is being exacerbated by the lack of UKCA Approved Bodies and available capacity in current Certification bodies and product testing facilities to reliably verify that existing or new products meet the UKCA criteria. As such, if any UK manufactured or imported engineering services product that needs to show these essential features cannot display a UKCA mark by the end of 2021 this will leave manufacturers and installers, clients and the public dealing with serious quality and contractual issues. In some product categories, industry is estimating that 64 years’ worth of retesting will be required, and we currently only have seven months.
The issue affects a vast swathe of installed engineering products for both the domestic and commercial sectors, and it could lead to an array of installation cancellations, delays and contractual problems for the supply chain and its customers. Actuate UK members cover the whole process of planning for, testing and installing these products and they are concerned that this could bring the industry to a standstill, while it is still recovering from the pandemic.
To avoid the looming crisis, and help with a sensible transition to UKCA marking, Actuate UK says it is working with others across the construction and services industries and requesting that the government continues to recognise the CE mark until at least the end of 2022. Actuate UK adds that during this this time, products used in Great Britain should be allowed to bear either or both marks.
CEO of Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) Russell Beattie explained: “This is not simply a question of manufacturers failing to prepare for a deadline and is inextricably linked with capacity within the still developing UKCA Approved Body cohort. Nor is this problem limited to our sector. At a time when businesses are trying to rebuild after the Covid-19 challenges the Government is urged to take the pragmatic step of extending the transition period. It is our understanding this has been done in the case of Medical Devices so there is sensible precedent for this.”