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Sat February 27 2021

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Manufacturers seek to rescue reputations with new marketing code

26 Jan The Construction Products Association (CPA) is seeking views on its proposed Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI).

The code has been developed by the CPA’s marketing integrity group (MIG), which it set up after the Grenfell Tower fire exposed issues with the integrity of construction product marketers.

“The reputation of our industry is now at risk and collectively we need to put it right,” the CPA says.

The CPA hopes that its proposed code, comprising 11 clauses, might set a benchmark for how product information is presented and marketed by manufacturers and address criticisms raised by Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building A Safer Future report, commissioned by the government in the wake of the fire and the cladding scandal that soon emerged.

The proposed code says that all product information put out must be clear, accurate, up-to-date, accessible and unambiguous. “These five points are the acid tests that now stand behind the 11 Clauses in the new Code,” the CPA said.

The 11 clauses are headed:

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  1. A ‘Manufacturer’ must have in place a documented sign-off process for creating ‘Product Information’.
  2. A ‘Manufacturer’ must have in place a formal version control process for all ‘Product Information’.
  3. Do not use mis-leading or ambiguous wording, phrasing or imagery and embrace the use of plain English to ensure accurate representation of ‘Product Information’ and performance claims.
  4. Provide specific information where claiming compliance to, or achievement of, any Certification, Classification or Industry Standard.
  5. You must provide verifiable information when making any product performance claims which are outside of Certification, Classification or Industry Standard tests.
  6. Make available on your website the descriptive and physical characteristics of the ‘Construction Product’.
  7. Ensure ‘Product Information’ is consistent with ‘Manufacturer’s’ supplied product.
  8. Publish on your website and make easily accessible, clear information on handling, installation, operation, maintenance and disposal of ‘Construction Products’.
  9. When making any claims of guarantees/warranties, your website must state what is covered, excluded, and required to comply with its terms. The guarantee/warranty should be transparent, and in a format recognised by the relevant sector of industry.
  10. Ensure technical helpline contact details (telephone and/or email) are visible on your website.
  11. Have in place a robust training programme (for new and existing personnel) to ensure that anyone conveying ‘Product Information’ is competent to the level of knowledge required for their role.

CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn said: “The importance of this new Code and consultation process will be obvious to all those working in the built environment post-Grenfell. It is our responsibility as an industry to regain public trust and credibility in what we do, and to demonstrate that technical competence can be trusted. I believe the code represents both a determined attempt on behalf of manufacturers to correct disingenuous marketing practices and a proactive and collaborative effort to address the issues highlighted in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report.

“The first industry consultation in 2019 was key in establishing the way forward. We are now encouraging the industry to have their say once more before the Code is launched. We are reaching out to every organisation across the construction supply chain, whether that be manufacturers, specifiers, suppliers, distributors, contractors or installers. I hope businesses and individuals will embrace the opportunity to be involved, and recognise the urgency of change that is needed for our industry to ensure safe buildings.”

MIG chair Adam Turk added: “Following Grenfell, our industry reputation has been damaged. This code is an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to setting a level playing field for all construction product manufacturers to ensure that information they provide passes the five acid tests. In particular, that users of our products can once again rely upon the information given to them, to build the great buildings and infrastructure in which we live, work and play.”

The consultation runs from the 1st February 2021 to the 31st March 2021.

Full details of the CPA's proposed code, including opportunity to comment, are at www.buildingsafely.co.uk

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