A statutory instrument was formally approved by Parliament on 17 November 2020. It aims to: “Ensure that products [are] safe, compliant and accurate to use and would not cause harm to consumers, workers and others. It also ensure[s] that products identified as unsafe or non-compliant could be removed from the market.”
It comes into force by 1 January 2021 – leaving precious little time for the 150,000 businesses who have to respond to the new requirements and change all product labelling design – or face penalties for non-compliance.
With the exception of goods that have already been imported and are on offer for sale on 31 December 2020, a new UKCA – ‘UK Conformity Assessed’ – marking must be used for goods placed on the market in England, Wales and Scotland. The new regulations cover all goods that presently require the ‘CE’ marking – a list to which aerosols have been added.
For goods placed on the Northern Ireland market, the UKCA marking alone is insufficient. Listed goods that are sold in the province require either or both a ‘CE’ marking or a new ‘UKNI’ marking.
The UKCA marking will not be recognised by the EU. All products presently requiring a ‘CE’ marking will still need a ‘CE’ marking when offered for sale anywhere in the EU from 1 January 2021.
UKCA and UKNI ‘kitemark’ approvals will be controlled by British Standards Institute and are mandatory for products that are: intended for sale in Great Britain; covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking; requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment; and conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body.
The UKCA and UKNI images are strictly controlled. They must be applied to the product itself, its packaging or – in some specific cases – may be placed on the manuals or on other supporting literature.
The markings must only be placed on a product the manufacturer or by an authorised representative and, when attaching the UKCA marking, the applicant takes full responsibility for the product’s conformity with the requirements of the relevant legislation. The marking shows the product’s conformity with the relevant UK legislation.
Any organisation – or their authorised representative, where allowed for in the relevant legislation – must keep documentation for 10 years to demonstrate that the product conforms with the regulatory requirements. This information can be requested at any time by market surveillance or enforcement authorities to check that your product conforms with the statutory requirements.
Records in the form of a technical file include: how the product is designed and manufactured; how the product has been shown to conform to the relevant requirements; the addresses of the manufacturer and any storage facilities
Product areas requiring UKCA marking include: Toy safety; Recreational craft and personal watercraft; Simple pressure vessels; Electromagnetic compatibility; Non-automatic weighing instruments; Measuring instruments; Lifts; Radio equipment; Pressure equipment; Personal protective equipment; Gas appliances; Machinery; Ecodesign; Aerosols; Low voltage electrical equipment; hazardous substances
Products covered by the UKCA marking but have some special rules include: medical devices; railway devices; construction products; and civil explosives.
On 1 January 2021 the UK standards will be the substantially the as the standards used in the EU. However, they will use the prefix ‘BS’ to indicate that they are standards adopted by the British Standards Institution as the UK’s national standards body.
From 1 January 2022, the CE marking will not be recognised in Great Britain.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Paul Scully, said the regulations, together with the other statutory instruments referred to above, would ensure that “the UK continues to have a fully functioning product safety and legal metrology framework in place from the end of the transition period”. He also said that it would give business clarity on that regime, and how the transition arrangements would operate.
Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South, said that the Opposition would not oppose the regulations, because they were necessary to provide a meaningful regulatory framework. He called for the Government to provide support to businesses, particularly in Northern Ireland, affected by the costs of implementing the new regime. He also proposed further work to ensure that people were aware of the UKCA marking.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee raised concerns about the costs of implementing the regulations. In the explanatory memorandum, the Government said that its analysis found “limited/negligible additional costs to business” from the provisions.
The committee obtained a copy of the assessment from the Government and found that “between 10,000 and 17,000 UK manufacturers and up to 135,000 UK wholesalers and retailers will be impacted” – with estimated costs to business of: £25.7 million over a ten-year period for conformity marking; £3.7 million for conformity assessment; and £6.6 million for “familiarisation” – a total additional cost to the nation of around £36 million.
Pointing out that regulations affected a “significant” number of businesses, the committee said that details should have been ready and published by the time that the statutory instrument was laid before Parliament in October to allow businesses time to prepare.
The statutory instrument was laid under the ‘draft affirmative procedure’. This means it must be approved by both Houses before it can be brought into force.