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White Paper proposes new standard for construction products competence

21 September 2022

A NEW White Paper has been published that sets out how the entire built environment sector can unite behind a single, agreed standard to determine, demonstrate and recognise construction products competence. Entitled ‘Built Environment – Proposed Construction Product Competence Standard’, the document has been developed by Competence Steering Group Working Group 12, led by the Construction Products Association.

The Competence Steering Group was tasked with responding to the competence issues raised in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report ‘Building a Safer Future’ and the subsequent requirements set out in the Building Safety Act following the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017.

All industries of the built environment sector use construction products, but their misuse can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal outcomes. Ensuring those who use construction products are competent is vital when it comes to producing buildings and a built environment that’s safe, efficient and performs as required. However, there’s currently no universal way in which to demonstrate that an individual has the correct competence to address the tasks for which they are accountable and responsible.

This White Paper confirms that radical change is needed around the area of construction product competence. Individuals who supply, use or otherwise work with construction-centric products need to be properly assessed and deemed competent to do so. This would include those from manufacturing, merchants, design, contractors, maintainers and many others emanating from right across the supply chain.

Core levels of competence

The proposal for a new standard comprises five core levels of competence as well as a methodology that defines how these can be mapped consistently by the different industries to their competence frameworks. This would ensure that everyone applies construction product competence in the same way and would assist regulators and duty holders alike in identifying what levels of competence are needed for everyone who works with construction products.

The levels outline fundamental knowledge bases applicable to all tasks with all construction products. They are designed to give a clear path of progression through the necessary competences required for different levels of responsibility and accountability. It can be used by industries to map against their existing training and qualifications and create any additional training infrastructure that may be needed.

The White Paper also proposes that the standard be added to the existing BSI 8670 series, which specifies requirements for competence frameworks for individuals working in the built environment.

Taking responsibility

Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, commented: “Dame Judith Hackitt rightly pointed out that our industry needs to take responsibility for competence and work in a non-siloed manner. Now, the Building Safety Act is making clear that regulators will no longer tolerate an industry that does not evidence its competence. The construction product competence levels have been designed to provide a single framework for everyone to work towards and I would urge the industry to read this White Paper and become involved in testing it together.”

Caplehorn added: “The levels are being published now to allow everyone in the built environment sector to review and consider how to apply them in their industry. It is for the different industries to recognise the necessity of clear, demonstrable construction product competence. Once this is recognised, it’s then for each industry and its organisations to take on the principles proposed in the White Paper and test them.”

Further, Caplehorn stated: “It’s the aim of the Construction Products Association, the Competence Steering Group and Working Group 12 that, by the time the proposals go through the formal standards process, industries will have had the time to practically trial them ready for entering feedback via public consultation. There will also be a series of panel-led webinars tailored to individuals who work in the following sectors: manufacturing, design, contracting, operations and maintenance and merchants/distributors.”

*The White Paper entitled ‘Built Environment – Proposed Construction Product Competence Standard’ is available to download online