housing development under construction

New regulator to ensure construction materials are safe

A new national regulator is to ensure that the materials used to build homes will be made safer, the government has said.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that the regulator for construction products will have the power to remove any product from the market that presents a significant safety risk, and to prosecute companies that flout the rules on product safety.

The move follows testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry that shone a light on the dishonest practice by some manufacturers of construction products, including deliberate attempts to game the system and rig the results of safety tests, said Mr Jenrick.

The regulator will have strong enforcement powers and will be able to conduct its own product testing when investigating concerns.

The governent’s overhaul of regulatory systems includes the publication of a draft Building Safety Bill, and a new Building Safety Regulator, which is already up and running in shadow form.

Mr Jenrick said: “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.

“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.”

Business Minister and Minister for London Paul Scully said: “We are launching a new authority to test and regulate the safety of construction materials, informed by the expertise that already exists within the Office for Product Safety and Standards.”

The regulator will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), which will be expanded and given up to £10 million to establish the new function. It will work with the Building Safety Regulator and Trading Standards to encourage and enforce compliance.

The government has also commissioned an independent review to examine weaknesses in previous testing regimes for construction products, and to recommend how abuse of the testing system can be prevented. It will be led by a panel of experts with regulatory, technical and construction industry experience and will report later this year.

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