Regulator forced firms to recall and improve products

The government’s product safety regulator issued multiple recall and improvement notices to two building insulation manufacturers, an official has said.

Speaking earlier this week at a Building Safety Regulator event, Duncan Johnson, deputy director for construction products regulation at the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), said two firms were served with notices.

The OPSS used its enforcement power to force Kingspan (in 2021) and Unilin Insulation (in 2023) to take products off the market.

Since then, both firms say they have improved the products to meet fire-safety standards, meaning their products could go back on the market.

The two companies were each required to contact their supply chains and customers to track down all iterations of their products that were deficient and improve the relevant products rapidly.

During the event, Johnson said the OPSS has to be “proportionate” in prohibiting certain products.

“Prohibition of production is an extremely draconian sanction and one which we would expect to use only rarely,” he added.

Unilin received four prohibition notices last year.

In January, one notice covered all Safe-R pitched roof and soffit products covered by a declaration of performance dated 1 May 2018. Another related to all Safe-R framing board and rainscreen products covered by a declaration of performance dated 9 January 2019, the OPSS said at the time.

The following month, the regulator issued notices for all Safe-R pitched roof, rainscreen, framing board and soffit products claiming Euroclass B supplied after 1 January 2023. It said these products were covered by an Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance declaration.

A spokesperson for the Unilin told Construction News: “We worked closely with OPSS based on its recommendations, resulting in the [amended] products remaining in the market,” they added.

The OPSS served six prohibition notices on Kingspan in December 2021.

At the time, it said it banned the UK supply of Kooltherm K15 insulation board products manufactured after 1 August 2021 that were covered by a 2 August 2021 declaration of performance.

A spokesperson for the company said it recalled around £150,000 worth of “certain in-market batches” of  Kooltherm K15.

The product was then improved, before it was put back on sale in early March 2022.

Johnson said the OPSS had also inspected all the manufacturers of fire doors in the UK. He added that “many of those [inspections] will have led to corrective actions”, although most of them would have been minor correction notices.

The OPSS has also scrutinised the technical information of smoke control dampers, he said.

The OPSS is not involved in historic non-compliance but only considers products currently on the market.

It operates within the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). The DBT directed Construction News to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which declined to comment.

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