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An important legal milestone in the bathrooms and construction industry has been reached. But for some it could be a legal minefield. From now on there is the new requirement for all bathroom products covered by Harmonised European Standards to have the CE Mark fixed to the product or its packaging.
CE marking is a key indicator of a product’s compliance with European legislation and enables its free movement within the European market. It is not a quality mark, per se, but it does indicate 'fitness for purpose.' By fixing the CE mark to a product, a manufacturer or importer openly declares its conformity with the legal requirements as detailed in the Construction Products Regulation and ensures its validity to be sold throughout the EEA - the 27 member states of the EU and the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Turkey.
CE marking does not indicate that a product was made in Europe, but merely states that the product has been assessed and has satisfied the legislative requirements before being placed on the market.
CE Mark is law
From July the new Construction Products Regulation, the CPR, which covers CE marking, required bathroom manufacturers and importers must ensure their products, if covered by the mandatory harmonised European Standards, are tested and are CE marked. Without the mark their products will be regarded as non-compliant and illegal. The list includes WCs, baths, shower enclosures, shower trays, washbasins, kitchen sinks, bidets and urinals.
Furthermore the CPR requires that manufacturers and importers must ensure their products bear a type, batch or serial number, and that they must retain technical documentation for a period of 10 years after the product has been placed on the market. Some in the industry regard this as a very heavy administrative burden.
To ensure compliance, each EU Member State will undertake appropriate market surveillance. In the UK, responsibility is split into regions. For England, Wales and Scotland surveillance will be conducted by Trading Standards. For Northern Ireland, it will be conducted by the Environmental Health Authority. The ultimate Enforcement Authority in the UK is the Secretary of State.
Failure to comply with any aspect of the CPR can lead to manufacturers being forced into taking corrective actions or to withdraw or recall the product. Non-compliance can ultimately lead to imprisonment for up to 3 months and/or a fine of up to £5,000 per incident.
CE marking will outlaw non-compliant products, will highlight suppliers who have no infrastructure for recording keeping and batch marking, and will ensure that the final re-seller is taking responsibility for the safety, compliance, and traceability of the products that they sell.
There is no doubt that this is a major milestone for the bathroom and construction industry.