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CPR in UK timber will be flaming necessity

The timber industry must prepare for upcoming Construction Products Regulation (CPR), according to Meyer Timber market executive Stephen Cope. The CPR has the ability to change the way the UK timber trade operates and it will supersede the Construction Products Directive (CPD) next year. Source: Lesprom

From July 1, 2013, all wood-based panel products sold, or intended to be sold, into construction must carry a CE mark. This will be easy for distributors of mass produced products like plywood, OSB, chipboard and MDF, even those for structural use, because it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to test the product and prove it fit for its intended purpose.

However, for post-treated flame retardant products it is whole new ball game.

For flame retardant (FR) plywood and hardboard, that is “for which a clearly identifiable stage in the production process results in an improvement of the reaction to fire classification” (EN13986:2004), the distributor is the manufacturer and must take on those responsibilities.

EN13986 provided for this requirement but the CPD, as interpreted into UK law, did not make it a legal obligation.

The CPR does and any distributor who, after July 1, 2013, arranges the FR processing of their free issue panels and places them back on the market with a reaction to fire classification (eg Euroclass B or C) must have acquired a Factory Production Control (FPC) certificate issued by a Notified Body. This must be supported by full and valid test evidence and provide a valid CE mark for the FR element of the panel’s performance.

This is not as easy as it sounds. Not all flame retardant processes available in the UK are properly tested and unless the technical file that contains the test evidence is complete and valid, it cannot support an application for an FPC certificate and without one, the distributor cannot fulfil their obligation to publish a Declaration of Performance for the product.

The CPR has the capacity to remove from the market any reaction-to-fire processor who cannot (or chooses not to) properly test their processes and demonstrate that they are fit for purpose.

Distributors who continue to buy inappropriately tested processes, or who place on the construction market post-treated FR panels without an FPC certificate (and who consequently cannot CE mark the product) put themselves at risk of prosecution.

Distributors who choose not to CE mark their post-treated panels cannot use the defence that they did not intend for them to be sold into construction, unless they have taken all reasonable steps to stop them entering the construction market.

It might also be safe to assume that distributors that choose to get it right will stand ready to name and shame those that don’t.