On 24 April 2011, the new EU Construction Products Regulation came into force (Regulation (EU) No 305/2011). It takes effect immediately, but will not impose binding obligations upon manufacturers until 1 July 2013. From an occupational safety and health perspective, the regulation is a significant improvement over the former Construction Products Directive, since for the first time, it sets out requirements for the safety of construction products at European level:
- A construction work must be designed and built in such a way that throughout its life cycle, it is not a threat to "the hygiene or health and safety of workers" (Basic requirement 3 in Annex I).
- For certain families of construction products, the European Commission may determine the essential characteristics for which the manufacturer of a product is obliged to declare its performance (Article 3 (3)).
- Should a Member State determine that a construction product poses a threat to human health or safety, it may require the economic operators concerned to take measures to eliminate the risk or to withdraw the product from the market (Article 58).
Like the directive preceding it (Directive 89/106/EEC), the EU Construction Products Regulation is also based upon the principle that the essential performance characteristics of the construction products should not be specified, but should be derived from the basic requirements for construction works stated in Annex I. Concrete requirements for these features are then formulated in harmonized technical specifications (such as standards). These requirements form the basis for the manufacturer's declaration of performance and for awarding of the CE mark.
An important aspect particular to the construction sector continues to be the fact that a certain performance need be declared for a product only when relevant national provisions are to be observed at the "intended" location at which the product is to be made available on the market (Article 6 (3)e). A contractor cannot, however, determine from the CE mark alone to which EU Member State the original declaration applied.
With the New Legislative Framework, in force since 2010, construction products are now also subject to market surveillance. The Construction Products Regulation takes up the provisions and substantiates them.
Since the Construction Products Regulation is founded upon national provisions, it is now crucial for occupational safety and health that the individual Member States create a sustainable statutory foundation for the safety of construction products. Based upon this foundation, the European Commission can formulate concrete requirements within mandates which in turn can be implemented within standards.