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The Construction Products Directive

Richard Hurst FCIPHE, IEng, IMarEng, MIMarEST provides an insight into CE Marking and how this should improve the fittings that engineers install.

During the late 80s the European Union introduced the “Construction Products Directive (the CPD)1, which was designed to improve the safety of building products and building design.

The intention of this legislation was to harmonise the national laws of the EU member states and ensure the free movement of goods used by the construction industry throughout Europe.

The CPD covered an enormous range of products and applied to items ranging from roof tiles to door hinges and the glass used in a shower screen to the glue holding the door veneer. It applies to "any product which is produced for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works, including both buildings and civil engineering works,"

The objectives of the CPD were fourfold:
1. To produce a range of harmonised, technical standards,
2. To agree a system of attestation of conformity for each product family,
3. To produce a framework of Notified Bodies and
4. To provide for the CE Marking of each product that had been harmonised.

Harmonised Standards
The production of Harmonised Standards was not within the remit of the European Union but was to remain the province of the bodies that had always produced National Standards. In the case of the UK, this was the British Standards Institute (BSI).
For many years, this body has brought British manufacturers (and manufacturers who wish to sell their products in the UK) and other interested bodies together, to produce national minimum standards for the construction or installation of a huge number of products.

Through the “Kite Mark” Scheme, they also attested products that met the Standards that manufacturers had laid down. This is just one of the methods of ensuring the compliance of a product with a Standard.
The different national bodies, such as the BSI, now combine and meet at CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) technical committees to agree the specifications for European Standards. These supersede National Standards, as and when required.

Validity of Standards
Each industry has its own committees. Technical committees and working groups are agreed and allocated as required for a particular project. They continue thereafter to maintain and amend these Standards at periods that the industries see fit. Normal revisions occur every 10 years, but can be more often. This ensures that the Standards remain valid and do not themselves become a barrier to technical innovation and trade. The production of European Standards is consensual and a Standard can be held up at committee stage for years if cross-country agreement in committee is not reached.
Not every European Standard is a ‘harmonised’ standard. Harmonisation occurs when the Standard contains an Annex ZA, which addresses the provisions of the EU Construction Products Directive. Compliance with the clauses of the Annex ZA establishes the conditions under which the product can be CE Marked.
Harmonised Technical Specifications also exist in the form of European Technical Approvals and European Technical Approvals without Guideline.
Metallic and non-metallic materials

Unfortunately, the greatest barrier to ‘Harmonised European Technical Specifications for Water Fittings Manufacturers’ throughout Europe is the testing of metallic and non-metallic materials used in products and which are in contact with water for human consumption.

In the UK for instance, the provisions of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 are predominant. These regulations require non-metallic materials to be tested generally in accordance with BS-6920.

For several decades, Europe has been attempting to harmonise the testing of these materials, alas without success and the inability to produce a European test method prevents the production of an Annex ZA for any water fitting which contains water for human consumption.
For this reason, harmonised European Standards within the water industry are relatively uncommon.

CE Marking under the CPD
CE marking of some water industry products was introduced with the CPD and the marking applied could consider only certain essential criteria, namely:
1. Mechanical resistance and stability,
2. Safety in the case of fire,
3. Hygiene, health and the environment,
4. Safety in use,
5. Protection against noise and
6. Energy economy and heat retention.

These six requirements relate to safety or energy conservation. Annex ZA considers the essential characteristics for each product, for instance, in WCs2 the Standard considers the test requirements for those products to be:

1. Watertightness/leaktightness,
2. Outlet valve reliability,
3. Noise level,
4. Flushing volume and
5. Durability.

These five test requirements are undertaken by the manufacturer, who then attests that their product conforms to the Standard. All manufacturers within the member states had to ensure they complied with the requirements of the CPD where it applied to their product; but UK manufacturers at the time, had an exemption from appending the Mark to their products for sale in the UK. This explains why the British public is so unaware of CE Marking for water products. It is only really on items also containing electrical or gas components, that CE marking was seen at all on water devices.

Attestation of Conformity
The responsibility for Attestation of Conformity depends on the level of risk that the device might be subject to in operation or manufacture. For instance, the NHS requires that anti-scald thermostatic mixing valves be subjected to third party testing and certification by an approved body. This is a UK requirement but exemplifies the priority of the NHS with regard to this issue.

The highest level of attestation of conformity required for CE marking is 1+ and the lowest level of attestation is 4. These attestation levels are concerned with the body that is responsible for the testing, where the highest risk is concerned, third parties must test and certificate the product. Attestation level 4 is to be conducted by the manufacturer at their own premises. All attestations of conformity must include factory production control, additionally, level 4 requires initial type testing. This is the most common attestation system.

The present Construction Products Regulations
The Construction Products Directive came into force in July 2013 and has significant implications for all manufacturers, traders and installers of water systems3.
These implications arise mainly from regulatory issues but there are also health and safety and water-saving matters to be considered.

Firstly, the Construction Products Directive is now the ‘Construction Products Regulations’ and the requirement for CE Marking of ‘harmonised’ EU Standards now extends throughout Europe. Its implications for the water industry and for installers, is that the CE Mark guarantees ourselves and our customers, that the products we are installing should be safe and energy-efficient and includes that they are designed and tested to ensure they are capable of mechanical resistance and stability with regard to water system pressure.

All manufactures, importers and distributers have a legal responsibility for ensuring their products can conform to their declared performance. They are required to produce a Declaration of Performance (DoP) for their products and every purchaser must have access to these declarations. Together with the technical specification, this DoP should give all the information provided by specifiers, to judge whether the product meets all regulations of the UK. It is not just the duty of the manufacturer to ensure the DoP is correct, but where any product manufactured abroad is sold under the trademark of another person, that person is now legally responsible for ensuring the product meets the requirements for its use. In short, importers and distributors cannot hide behind a foreign manufacturer’s back. They must satisfy themselves that his claims for the product are true and if necessary, carry out testing of their own to verify such claims.

As stated earlier, products used for the supply of domestic water are not likely to be harmonised for many years, because of the national supremacy of member states in the testing of material used to make them. Water industry products that are harmonised are listed below4. There are moves afoot to break this impasse but even these are meeting difficulties.

Despite the incorporation into law of the Construction Products Regulations, most of the Standards throughout Europe are still referring to conformity with the Construction Products Directive and the information and labelling is made with the directive in mind. The changes to labelling that are required under the Regulations are therefore not apparent in these harmonised documents.

The biggest pitfall that installers can encounter, is the requirements of the UK Water Regulations with regard to WC suites and their cisterns. When the water supply Water Fittings) Regulations came into effect in 1999, a series of testing criteria evolved for the testing of WC cisterns and WC pans. These criteria were for the purposes of testing WC suites and in particular, limiting the volume of flush. The Regulator’s Criteria is the only test criteria that can be applied to WCs in the UK. 

However, the EU had different ideas about the testing and so we have products under two classes in the European Standard. These classes are referred to in the marking for compliance to the EU Construction Products Directive. Therefore, to meet the requirements of the Water Regulations in England and Wales, the Water Byelaws Scotland and Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland, the only relevant CE Marks are those for class two WC suites and those CE Marked to class one are not relevant for use within the UK.

1 (Council Directive 89/106/EEC)

2 BS EN 14055:2010 WC and urinal flushing cisterns

3 93/68/EEC of 22 July 1993 and Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 September 2003.[6] The directive was repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 on 9 March 2011

4 BS EN 14055:2010 WC and urinal flushing cisterns

BS EN 997:2012 WC pans and WC suites with integral trap

BS EN 14528:2007 Bidets functional requirements and test methods

BS EN 14428:2004 Amended 2008 Shower enclosures functional requirements and test methods

BS EN 14527:2006 Amended 2010 Shower trays for domestic purposes.

BS EN 14688:2006 Sanitary appliances functional requirements and test methods

BS EN 14516:2015 Baths for domestic purposes

Ramifications of Brexit
BSI will continue to develop and publish British Standards.
CE Marking is still a legal requirement, unless of course, this is revoked by British law.