New product testing addresses post-Grenfell concerns

Published:  08 October, 2018

The British Board of Agrément has announced an initiative to provide additional assurance to specifiers and clients that the building materials they use are of a consistently high quality.

Its Product Excellence Programme was officially launched during a Westminster Sustainable Business Forum on 11 September at the Houses of Parliament, which focused on quality in construction.

It comes as concerns about quality and safety arose after the Grenfell Tower disaster, with consumers now looking for assurance that products are certified.

The BBA’s PEP raises the UK certification bar, offering product assessment, testing and monitoring that, the BBA says, will give designers, specifiers, contractors, building inspectors, insurers and end users increased confidence about building materials.

The green PEP logo will appear on BBA certificates for products that have gained this new level of certification.

Brian Moore, BBA Deputy CEO, said: “PEP is an enhancement to the proven audit and inspection service that the BBA has provided for many years, bringing additional rigour and excellence to the process.

“Post-Grenfell, consumers are looking for a higher degree of reassurance and expect products to be tested regularly by a trustworthy and externally assessed independent body such as the BBA, which is UKAS accredited.”

Martin Taylor, Commercial Director of Local Authority Building Control, said: “Significant changes in building regulations often follow disasters, but we should be more proactive and look to solve these problems before they occur.”

Currently, BBA management systems auditors visit client manufacturing facilities every six months to ensure that BBA certified products continue to be manufactured in line with the agreed quality plan. PEP introduces a product testing regime to this process:

• Complexity 1 products – those that possess fire or structural type characteristics – will be tested annually.

• Complexity 2 products – those that do not possess fire or structural type characteristics – will be tested every three years.

For both complexities the BBA will randomly select products for testing during audits of manufacturing facilities and send them to the BBA Product Excellence Test Centre in Watford. If a product tested does not meet the agreed specifications, it will be subject to immediate further investigation. If the company is unable to address the source of failure, it will have its BBA Certificate withdrawn.

Existing BBA Certificate holders are being automatically enrolled onto PEP and, in the future, certificates will include prominent information about PEP compliance. Certificate holders who opt out of PEP must provide the BBA with product tests from another UKAS-approved laboratory. All new BBA clients will automatically be assessed against the PEP criteria.

Pictured: (L-R) Martin Taylor, Commercial Director of LABC; Francesca Berriman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists; and Brian Moore, CEO of BBA.

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