CE marking of steel reinforcement – no requirement for CE marking of steel reinforcement.
There is some confusion amongst designers, consultants and specifiers as to whether steel reinforcement requires a CE mark. As there is currently no harmonised European Standard (hEN) it does not. What the sector has is a product certification scheme that in many respects is a more rigorous check than CE marking.
Since 1 July 2013, it became mandatory for manufacturers to apply CE marking to any of their products that are covered by a hEN under the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). The CPR replaced the Construction Products Directive (CPD) under which CE marking was voluntary.
CE marking is used to demonstrate a presumption of conformity by the manufacturer or importer. It is not a quality or safety mark and is primarily designed as a regulatory mark to ensure freedom of movement of goods throughout Europe.
It is expected that steel reinforcement will eventually be covered by a harmonised European standard (hEN). This standard, EN 10080, is currently at draft stage and is not predicted to facilitate CE marking before 2019 at the earliest. Until then, there is no CE marking necessary for reinforcing steel, reinforcing fabric or lattice girders.
Furthermore, there are no plans for cut and bent reinforcement to be subject to a hEN as it is not included in the European Commission’s mandate. It should be noted, however, that some reinforcement accessories are subject to CE marking and designers and specifiers are advised to check accordingly.
As stated above, CE marking is a regulatory mark not a quality mark. For quality assurance, there is the well-established CARES Steel for the Reinforcement of Concrete (SRC) scheme. It is the only product certification scheme in the sector accredited by UKAS. UK Government requires steel reinforcement to be assessed using UKAS accredited conformity assessment whenever this is an option.
The CARES SRC scheme was first established in the early 1980s and has been updated periodically to reflect improvements and best practice across the supply chain. The SRC scheme covers all stages in the supply chain from the receipt of raw materials, the manufacture and processing of the steel through to the delivery to the customer. The scheme is based on the application of three essential elements:
• The suppliers’ management system as defined by BS EN ISO 9001
• The full requirements of the relevant product standard
• The control of the manufacturing processes to ensure the product consistently complies with the specified requirements.
CARES assess the competence and capability of the supplier to provide products which consistently comply with the stated published standards (principally BS 4449, BS 8666, BS 4482 and BS 4483). To be granted a certificate of approval the supplier must submit an application. This is followed by a three-stage assessment process:
• Assessment of the applicant’s quality management system to ISO 9001.
• Compliance with the relevant CARES schedules.
• Independent product testing to determine compliance with the relevant product standards.
Holding CARES approval status is a continuous process and requires at least two audits per year. Product samples are selected by the CARES auditor and witness tested in the manufacturers’ laboratory and duplicate samples are tested at selected UKAS accredited laboratories. CARES role is to check, amongst other matters, that the testing has been carried out correctly and consistently to the highest standards. If these audits demonstrate that the company continues to comply with the requirements of the CARES SRC scheme, a certificate of approval will be re-issued at the beginning of each year.