Wood and Standards

Wood, wood products and Standardisation

A list of British and European Standards in relation to wood and wood-based products is not inexhaustible but it is rather long (and *1where do you start and stop?). At the online BSI Shop, keyword searches give the following results:  Timber – 434; Wood – 845; Plywood – 76; Wood-based panel – 135, but the lists do include drafts, withdrawn versions, ISOs, ASTM Standards and some keywords will no doubt be duplicated, all of which will be boosting numbers somewhat, and *1there will be many with only an indirect involvement with wood (e.g. paint and varnish) but which include ‘wood’ as a keyword.

Notwithstanding the current ‘in limbo’ situation as the UK works towards the end of the Brexit transition period, as a European Member State the UK has been instrumental in the development of European Standards.  For wood and wood-based products, that has involved participation in the listed CEN Technical Committees and their various Working Groups.  The total number of published Standards – figures from the CEN Technical Bodies web pages as at 20/02/2020 – is 210. (220 would have been nice!)  In the UK they are published as BS EN documents. That total does not include TC 350 and TC 351 documents which are not wood-specific.

Technical Bodies (Working Groups) (Published Standards)

CEN

Technical

Committee

BSI

Mirror

Committee

Durability of wood and derived substances

TC 38 (8) (46)

B/515

Wood-based panels

TC 112 (8) (63)

B/541

Timber structures

TC 124 (6) (37)

B/518

Round and sawn timber – Non-structural

TC 175 (10) (63)

B/543

Structural Eurocodes EC5 – Design of timber structures

TC 250/SC5

B/525/5

Sustainability of construction works

TC 350 (6) (13)

B/558

Construction products – release of dangerous substances

TC 351 (5) (26)

B/557

 

You will find a complete listing of CEN Technical Bodies at ‘standards.cen.eu’.  The scope of each TC is outlined together with details of its structure (working groups), work programme and published standards the latter under both the TC and each responsible WG. 

In addition, there are the British Standards (BS) which have not been replaced by EN Standards and which, if you are seeking something specific, should be locatable at the BSI Shop online, with appropriate keywords; e.g. marine plywood.

European Standards have been developed in support of the Construction Products Regulation – it replaced the Construction Products Directive and has applied in full since 1 July 2013 – the aim of which is “… to make the single market work better and improve the free movement of construction products in the EU by laying down uniform rules for the marketing of these products and by providing a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products.”

According to the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament published 3 February 2020: “… In either event the UK will be leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year and stakeholders should prepare for that reality.”

GOV.UK Guidance – it was withdrawn 19 February 2020 – advised in ‘Construction Products Regulation if there is no Brexit deal’: “The government laid a draft statutory instrument on 18 December 2018 detailing the arrangements that will apply. The statutory instrument*2 was made in March 2019 and will come into effect as soon as the UK leaves the EU.”

“All existing European harmonised standards will become UK ‘designated standards’. This will mean that immediately following the UK’s exit from the EU, the European harmonised standards and UK designated standards will be identical. The government will publish and maintain the list of UK designated standards. This will be a UK-wide approach with the standards applying at UK level.” Whether that still holds remains to be seen, especially (but not only) how it applies to Northern Ireland.

Immediately following the UK’s exit from the EU in this case is now tied-in to the transition period during which it will (should) become clear as to whether the statutory instrument will be replaced or amended depending on the negotiations but presently could be considered the default position and probably the expected one given the Government’s statements about regulatory divergence.

The harmonised standards invoke CE marking which remains mandatory in the UK during the transition period and which will remain acceptable for “a time-limited period” (to be advised) thereafter. At that point, CE marking will cease to be acceptable in the UK being replaced by UK marking.  The two will not be mutually acceptable.

Harmonised Standards currently cited in the OJEU; consolidated list last published 9 March 2018.

Harmonised Standard

Subject

EN 13986:2004+A1:2015

Wood-based panels for use in construction - Characteristics, evaluation of conformity and marking

EN 14080:2013

Timber structures - Glued laminated timber and glued solid timber – Requirements

EN 14081-1:2005+A1:2011

Timber structures - Strength graded structural timber with rectangular cross section - Part 1: General requirements

EN 14229:2010

Structural timber - Wood poles for overhead lines 89/106/EEC (C 246, 2011-08-24)    

EN 14250:2010

Timber structures - Product requirements for prefabricated structural members assembled with punched metal plate fasteners

EN 14342:2013

Wood flooring and parquet - Characteristics, evaluation of conformity and marking

EN 14351-1:2006 +A2:2016

Windows and doors - Product standard, performance characteristics - Part 1: Windows and external pedestrian doorsets

EN 14374:2004

Timber structures - Structural laminated veneer lumber – Requirements

EN 14545:2008

Timber structures - Connectors - Requirements

EN 14592:2008+A1:2012

Timber structures - Dowel-type fasteners - Requirements

EN 14915:2013

Solid wood paneling and cladding - Characteristics, evaluation of conformity and marking

EN 15497:2014

Finger jointed structural timber – Performance requirements and minimum production requirements

There are published versions more recent than some of the above dated documents but they can not be used as the basis for CE marking until they are cited in the OJEU.

Further to continued development of standards, it is currently understood that BSI will retain its National Standardisation Body status within CEN, the latter not being a European Union organization, with continued participation of UK delegates at CEN/TC and WG committee meetings, which would make sense if “… immediately following the UK’s exit from the EU, the European harmonised standards and UK designated standards will be identical”, although a more recent communication from BSI suggests that it might not be a straightforward transition.

What the UK does stand to be excluded from, although EFTA members are participants, is the SCC – Standing Committee on Construction – which is a European Commission committee.  Issued on 24 February 2020 was the announcement that:

“As a consequence of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the Commission has provided the information that, in light of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the Union, persons representing, appointed by, or nominated by UK bodies will no longer participate in meetings of Union institutions or bodies.

For the Group of Notified Bodies (GNB) for the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), the above means that, as of 01 February 2020, Notified Bodies of the United Kingdom will no longer participate in meetings in the framework of the GNB, including meetings of Sector Groups and those of the GNB Advisory Group.

In accordance with the withdrawal agreement, during the year 2020 Notified Bodies appointed by the UK may maintain their status as Notified Bodies and will have the obligation to keep themselves informed about the work of the GNB-CPR and to apply the GNB Guidance.”

There are a number of other unresolved issues at Commission level which, amongst other things, have resulted in the non-citation in the OJEU of the more recently published versions of hENs.   Again, how those issues might ultimately be resolved and the possible knock-on effect on the development of UK documentation is, at the time of writing, a complete unknown.

Also, the CPR has recently undergone a detailed review the outcome of which – a number of options were suggested – is still awaited.  Similarly, CE marking itself looks set to undergo something of a ‘modernisation’ with the development of CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA 17316:2018) ‘Smart CE marking for construction products’.  From the document Scope: ‘Smart CE marking for construction products aims to digitalise mandatory construction products information provided in the declaration of performance (DoP) according to Regulation (EU) No 305/2011. When available for their standards, manufacturers will have the option to make their DoP available in their websites in XML format (human and machine readable), the files will be accessible through the link included in the CE marking. This link will allow the use of "smart" devices connected to internet (mobile phones, tablets, computers, etc) to use this information through internet browsers, applications or software.’

What effect all of that might have on the content of Statutory Instrument 2019 N. 465 and the future of UK marking will only become clear once the outcomes unfold.    

*2 STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS:
2019 No. 465.  EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNION BUILDING AND BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTION MARKET STANDARDS.
The Construction Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Update (May 2020):  Under the section Ensuring a smooth phasing-in of the revised CPR it notes: “Almost the entirety of the current CPR Acquis has to be rebuilt and readopted. This will not happen overnight. Given the size of the current Acquis (444 Harmonised Standards and 157 EADs), the entire exercise will take at least 5 to 10 years.”

 

Contributor:  John Park FIMMM  17 March 2020