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Housing Minister announces new construction materials regulator

A new regulator to ensure the safety of materials used in construction projects in the wake of the Grenfell Inquiry revelations has been announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The regulator will have the power to remove any product from the market that presents a significant safety risk and to prosecute any companies who flout the rules on product safety.

The Grenfell Inquiry has heard evidence of dishonest practices by some manufacturers of construction products, including deliberate attempts to rig the results of safety tests for financial gain.

The regulator will be able to conduct its own product-testing when investigating concerns. Businesses must ensure that their products are safe before being sold in addition to testing products against safety standards.

It will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) which will be expanded and given up to £10 million in funding 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.

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.”

Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety Dame Judith Hackitt said: “This is another really important step in delivering the new regulatory system for building safety. The evidence of poor practice and lack of enforcement in the past has been laid bare. As the industry itself starts to address its shortcomings I see a real opportunity to make great progress in conjunction with the national regulator.”

 

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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