Government establishes new construction product regulator post-Grenfell

The new regulator will have the power to test construction products, remove products from the market and prosecute rogue companies.
A roof truss on a house under construction.
The new regulator will be able to remove unsafe construction products from the market and prosecute rogue companies. Credit: Pixabay

The government has established a new construction product regulator to ensure that all new homes are built from safe materials.

The new regulator for construction products will have the power to remove from the market any product that presents a ‘significant’ safety risk and prosecute companies flouting safety rules, the housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

The new regulator will also have the ability to conduct its own product testing when investigating safety concerns.

The regulator’s introduction comes after recent testimony to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry revealed deliberate attempts by some construction products to rig safety tests.

The move is just the latest of the government’s attempts at regulatory reform following the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people in 2017.

Last year the government published its draft Building Safety Bill, which contained provisions to extend its powers to regulate construction products.

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.”

The announcement follows recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review that the construction industry and the government should better test and certify construction products.

The regulator will operate within an expanded Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) which will be given an additional £10 million in funding to oversee its function.

The regulator will work alongside the new Building Safety Regulator and Trading Standards to enforce compliance to the new regulations.

Hackitt, chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, commented: “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.”

The government has also commissioned an independent review to identify weaknesses in previous testing regimes for construction products, and to recommend how to crack down on abuse of the testing system.

The review will be led by experts with regulatory, technical and construction industry experience. It will report back with its recommendations later this year.

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