The Government has announced the establishment of a national regulator which aims to ensure materials used to build homes will be made safer.
The announcement follows recent testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry that revealed dishonest practices, including rigging the results of safety tests, by some manufacturers of construction products.
The national regulator for construction products will have the power to remove any product from the market that presents what the Government describes as ‘a significant safety risk’ and prosecute any companies who flout product safety rules.
It will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) which will be given up to £10m in funding to establish the new function. It will work with the Building Safety Regulator and Trading Standards to encourage and enforce compliance.
‘The Grenfell Inquiry has heard deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice by some construction product manufacturers and their employees, and of the weaknesses of the present product testing regime,’ said housing secretary Robert?Jenrick.
‘We are establishing a national regulator to address these concerns and a review into testing to ensure our national approach is fit for purpose.
‘We will continue to listen to the evidence emerging in the Inquiry, and await the judge’s ultimate recommendation – but it is already clear that action is required now and that is what we are doing.’
The chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt, described the announcement of a national regulator for building materials as a ‘really important step’.
‘The evidence of poor practice and lack of enforcement in the past has been laid bare,’ she said.
‘As the industry itself starts to address its shortcomings I see a real opportunity to make great progress in conjunction with the national regulator.’
Lord Porter, the Local Government Association (LGA) building safety spokesperson, welcomed the move.
‘It is good that the Government has listened to councils’ concerns and announced a review into testing to ensure our national approach is fit for purpose, alongside the new national construction products regulator,’ he said.
‘We have previously raised concerns over the effectiveness of the BS8414 test used to certify cladding systems on high rise buildings.
‘As well as this, we have raised concerns about the role of the test houses in the mass failure of Glass Reinforced Plastic fire doors following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.’
He added: ‘The Office for Product Safety and Standards will need to work closely with the Health and Safety Executive in its role as the new Building Safety Regulator to ensure that products are not only safe but correctly installed.’