CPA recommends single standard for construction product competence

Proposals which could lead to radical change around construction product competence (CPC) have been laid out in a new white paper.

The Built environment – proposed construction product competence standard document outlines the industry’s need to “unite behind” a single standard. This would allow those those working with construction products, including contractors, to demonstrate competence.

Developed by Competence Steering Group (CSG) Working Group 12, led by the Construction Products Association (CPA), the 57-page document recommends that individuals who supply, use or work with construction products must be “properly assessed and deemed competent to do so”.

This would apply to those from manufacturing, merchants, design, contractors, maintainers, and others from across the supply chain, according to the CSG working group.

The standard would comprise of five core levels of competence, with a methodology that defines how these can be mapped consistently by the different industries to their competence frameworks.

Each level would outline fundamental knowledge bases applicable to all tasks with all construction products, according to the work group. It says they are designed to “give a clear path of progression” through the necessary competences required for different levels of responsibility and accountability.

It has also suggested the standard is added to the existing BSI 8670 series, which specifies requirements for competence frameworks for individuals working in the built environment.

The paper, published yesterday (15 September), will now be reviewed by the sector, which will be expected to test the principles and feed back via a public consultation.

CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn said: “Dame Judith Hackitt rightly pointed out that our industry needs to take responsibility for competence and work in a non-siloed manner. Now the Building Safety Act is making clear that regulators will no longer tolerate an industry that does not evidence its competence.

“The CPC levels have been designed to provide a single framework for everyone to work to, and I would urge the industry to read this white paper and get involved in testing it together.”

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the CSG was tasked with responding to the competence issues raised in Dame Hackitt’s report Building a Safer Future and the subsequent requirements set out in the Building Safety Act, which was implemented earlier this year.

At present there is no universal way to demonstrate that an individual has the competence for the tasks they are accountable and responsible for.

The CSG has argued that the standard, if accepted, would ensure that everyone applies CPC in the same way and would assist regulators and duty holders in identifying what levels of competence are needed for everyone who works with construction products.

It says the standard could prevent misuse of products leading to dangerous and potentially fatal outcomes. It would also help contractors check their existing training and qualifications and create any additional training infrastructure that may be needed.

In July the British Standards Institution published three new standards, sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, which set out competence requirements for building safety management, including principal designers and principal contractors.

They were introduced to improve building safety standards across the construction industry, together with the regulatory regime introduced in the Building Safety Act.

The white paper Built environment – Proposed Construction Product Competence Standard is available to download online here.

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