07 December 2022
Alan Murray provides an update to the latest changes to the UKCA rules.
IT IS a privilege to have the opportunity to write this column in HSM, one that I greatly value. I’m sure you can imagine that when I sit down to put it together my first thoughts are, what information needs to be communicated, what is current and important! It is then a valuable discipline to check back to ensure that I haven’t covered the topic in previous columns.
Well, information that needs to be communicated is most certainly the change to the rules on UKCA marking! Have I communicated on this before yes, indeed I have, many times! The frequency with which changes are announced render the situation chaotic and my sympathies go to all the responsible businesses who have invested to meet the timelines as they had previously been published.
Now, readers will remember that the original guidance required all the changes in PPE to be in force by the end of 2021, but following extensive lobbying this “impossible” deadline was moved out a year until the end of 2022. Our industry worked hard aiming to complete in the due time and more conformity assessment bodies established themselves in the UK to create the required capacity and meet the demand. Quite suddenly in June 2022 the government announced that there would be no further extension to the deadline of December 2022 for UKCA being required but, if a product already had a CE approval then that could be used as the basis for applying the UKCA mark, without any need for manufacturers to use a UK Approved Body. This was something of a seismic shift but, it has to be said, one that would have been common sense if enacted as part of the first announcements in 2020!
With the dust settling on the June ’22 announcements and businesses adjusting to the new conditions, another surprise! On November 14 2022 the government announced that CE approved product (without the need for any UKCA) would still be acceptable for a further 2 years until the end of December 2024. All of these changes, were of course, as ever, described as support for business. Really! Chaos for those involved in the process and confusion for users and indeed for market surveillance authorities. All of these changes genuinely risk the Regulation being significantly undermined, which is in the interests of nobody.
The full Guidance published in November can be accessed and downloaded at from the BSIF websitehttps://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/PPE-Guide-Nov-22.pdf
Of course one mustn’t forget that there is a different, updated, version of the Regulation as it applies in Northern Ireland, see https://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/PPE-Guide-NI-Nov-22.pdf
To quote the old cliché “it is what it is” and all that we can practically do is keep pressing BEIS for clarifications on the Regulation (which are still needed) and keep everyone as up to date as we possibly can, so that the PPE market is informed and wearers kept safe!
In other news!
The government announced that all of the EU legislation that the UK retained on our statute books following Brexit, which I note seems a less used word in Whitehall circles these days, with many preferring to use the phrase “post-exit”, will sunset by December 2023. This means that all retained EU law, up to 4,000 pieces of legislation including the PPE Regulation and many pieces of Health Safety and Environment laws, will be reviewed, reformed or removed during the next 12 months. This initiative, the “Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill” came from the then Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg and is now handled by Grant Shapps, Secretary of State at BEIS and the puzzlingly named “Brexit Opportunities Unit”.
This undertaking is massive and fraught with problems, but I am told that the current Secretary of State thinks a more “sane” timetable should be put in place. We will see, but I can assure you that we, and other interested groups will work to protect good laws and standards where they exist across our sector.
Let’s see what 2023 brings.
Alan Murray is chief executive of BSIF. For more information, visit www.bsif.co.uk