It’s taken as read that when a manufacturer presents documents that say its products meet the required performance and manufacturing standards that it is an absolute statement of fact. Not so! History is littered with many examples of cases where false documentation and fraudulent claims have resulted in the severe and costly consequences of product failure.
Such failures damage the reputation and professionalism of the whole construction industry and create the impression that they are unable to police themselves effectively- for if they did then such potentially dangerous products would never reach the market in the first place.
Why then with all the standards, regulations and approvals procedures apparently closely monitoring and assuring everyone that all is well and good, do we find that an unscrupulous few are still flouting the system and, moreover, still getting away with it?
Despite guidance on minimum performance, certain manufacturers continue to sell substandard and potentially dangerous systems that do not have the correct documentation and certification. Obviously the approach to this problem has to change, and change radically.
Currently, when a product fails or is found to be substandard and a significant claim for damages arises, someone must be liable. To find where fault lies, the customer will rightly ask their contractor to prove that the installed product meets the required standard. They, in turn, will approach their merchant and likewise ask for proof of product compliance- and so on down the supply chain to the manufacturer.
If fraudulent claims are then found to have been made then liability will rest with the manufacturer. But the merchant also has a case to answer under contract law through the Sale Of Goods Act.
With degrees of responsibility at every level of the supply chain, there needs to be a robust, single response from the industry to stamp out the problem. Standards enforcement agencies must use their authority to force the withdrawal of products as soon as there is any legitimate concern about their safety. They must be free to name the products that fail to reach acceptable standards and quickly enforce significant punitive measures on the manufacturers responsible.
Here at Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire we feel this issue does need addressing in order to keep people safe from harm whilst working.