Compulsory CE marking is coming. Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Roads Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) explains what to expect and what to do
Currently there are several different processes to follow in order to deliver a consistent quality assured product into the roads surface treatments market. These include the BBA Highways Authorities Product Approval Scheme (HAPAS), BSEN ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, National Highway Sector Schemes and CE marking – the later demonstrating compliance with a European Product Standard (EN). Of these schemes only HAPAS, EN’s and CE marking are product specific.
CE marking involves bi-annual audits by a notified body such as BSI, Lloyds or similar covering the quality management system, factory production control system to ensure that the appropriate level of quality control testing is being undertaken. CE marking is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product fully complies with the requirements of the relevant European Product Standards and Construction Products Directive.
What is CE marking?
Although it is limited to compliance to Directive’s specification and only covers the product’s factory condition rather than installation, CE marking is often referred to as a "product passport" as it does what it says on the tin. Standing for Conformite Europeen (European Conformity), CE markings demonstrates that the product complies with EU legislation and so can be used throughout the European Economic Area.
It provides confirmation that the product or system meets the minimum requirements of the relevant harmonised European Technical Specification – either a harmonised European Standard (hEN) or a European Technical Approval (ETA).
Currently, CE marking is only voluntary in the UK but this is due to change. In April the Construction Products Regulation was adopted by the European Commission and UK Government as a replacement to the Construction Products Directive and although the main provisions will not come into force until July 2013 there are major implications for the road surface treatments sector as contractors need to ready themselves as CE marking will then be mandatory in the UK. After July 2013 any contractor installing surface dressing or slurry-micro surfacing products without CE marking runs the risk of criminal prosecution.
The contractor's responsibility
Affixing the CE mark is the responsibility of the contractor. He is making the declaration that his product conforms to all necessary legislation (safety, health and environmental protection) and is therefore valid to be sold throughout the European Economic Area. In order to carry out this responsibility, the contractor must first carry out a conformity assessment, establish a technical file and sign an EU declaration of conformity. All documentation must be made available to authorities upon request.
It is for the contractor to determine which EN applies to his product and to obtain the necessary involvement notified body to assess confirmity. The declaration of conformity must include the manufacturer’s details, essential product characteristics, relevant European standards and performance data, the identification of the notification body and a legally binding signature on behalf of the organisation. The CE mark must be affixed visibly to the product documentation.
Failure to comply
Failing to correctly CE mark or to counterfeit CE compliance can have significant consequences of up to three months in jail and a £5,000 fine (for the director of the offending company). Penalties are dependent upon the respective EU member state.
CE marking aims to provide a level playing field of market requirements across the European Community and so remove potential trade barriers. This means giving companies free market access across the European Economic Area without the need to meet particular local requirements. CE marking should also remove the need for individual contract testing. It should be remembered that CE marking is product specific and so does not cover the installation and competence of operatives. The installation of road surface treatments is regulated by National Highway Sector Scheme 13.
Although the Construction Products Regulation does not come into force until 2013, the clock is ticking and companies would do well to understand and start to implement their forthcoming CE marking legal obligations.
The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) aims to raise the awareness of the benefits of surfacing treatments and promote work force competence and safe working practices. Membership includes large national and regional contracting companies, Local Authority Direct Labour Services Organisations, materials and equipment suppliers. Members are encouraged to join the National Highway Sector Scheme 13 or BBA/HAPAS Product Certification and Approved Installers Schemes.