Why Gordon Riddoch, the MD of Rutland London, is calling for greater compliance with UK and EU standards in the heated bathroom product arena, in order to safeguard end users and protect the industry’s reputation
Last year brought many challenges – Covid-19, the erratic surge in demand between lockdowns, and the chaos of Brexit and concerns about how that will affect our European business interests.
We took the opportunity, while working remotely from April last year, to undertake a significant project review and update of our compliance documentation in relation to the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and EN 442, to best support our diverse portfolio of residential and commercial projects. Our review of the CPR legislation and EN 442 standards started by seeking independent specialist legal advice.
EN 442 is a harmonised standard covering radiators, including heated towel rails and falls within the scope of the CPR, which means it is a legal requirement of the CPR for manufacturers of heated towel rails (for central heating systems) to manufacture and declare the performance of their heating products in accordance with EN 442 for all products sold within the UK and EU.
Although Rutland London has always been a compliant manufacturer, taking the time to review and enhance our compliance has allowed us to review our manufacturing processes and streamline various elements of production.
This opportunity also allowed us to ‘myth-bust’ a few industry misinterpretations, so that we were able to advise our trade clients accordingly.
Points raised by our legal counsel specifically regarding the KBB trade:
1. Many manufacturers producing bespoke heated towel rails assume they are exempt from EN 442.
Manufacturers can only claim a derogation under the CPR and exemption from EN 442 if they manufacture and install their bespoke heated towel rails themselves.
2. Small boutique manufacturers of heated towel rails assume they don’t have to comply with EN 442.
All manufacturers producing heated towel rails for sale in the UK and EU must declare the performance of their heating products in accordance with EN 442 regardless of their size or location – although manufacturers with a turnover of less than €2 million (£1.7m) or fewer than 10 employees can self-certify their products.
3. Retailers selling brass heated towel rails under their own brand assume they have no responsibility to be compliant.
Any organisation – retailer, designer, manufacturer, reseller, etc – placing heating products on the market in the UK or EU under their own brand name, assumes the responsibility of a manufacturer and must prove compliance with the CPR and EN 442, regardless of whether they are actually a manufacturer or simply a retailer repackaging products under their own name.
Having debunked these myths, our next steps were guided by a review of the market by our marketing team and an in-depth review of how we felt we could improve on our own compliance offering. In particular, we noted several common pitfalls and specific client requirements:
• Manufacturers providing heat output advice with no reference to the finish of the product. Given that heat outputs can differ significantly between finishes, we were aware that failing to advise which finish heat outputs were associated with could lead to a 25% to 30% margin of error.
• We noted many manufacturers providing heat outputs in accordance with the requirements of EN 442:1-2004 and not EN 442:1-2014. This does not reflect the demands of modern, lower-temperature heating systems.
• Many manufacturers of English brass heated towel rails felt that because they manufacture bespoke products, they were exempt from proving compliance. This potentially means that bespoke heating products produced by these manufacturers could be unsafe
On the above basis, we decided that enhanced independent type testing was the best route forward. So we appointed a Notified Body to undertake thorough independent type testing of our heated towel rails, as well as the necessary calculations to identify the exact heat outputs of our standard-sized products in a breadth of finishes in accordance with EN 442.
While Brexit will bring compliance challenges throughout 2021 – such as the introduction of the UKCA mark alongside the CE mark – I am confident that the safe and compliant manufacturing of KBB fittings and fixtures will become ever more relevant.
Manufacturers who fail to meet the reasonable requirements of the law put the safety of end users at risk, which damages the reputation of individual retailers and the wider KBB industry.