Published on : Saturday, June 7, 2014
Earlier this year following the ‘Fake Britain – Furniture Inferno’ programme the Association that represents the Belgian fabric Mills raised concerns with BFM about fire safety accreditation. Each year the BFM organises the London Fabric Show for the Belgian mills and therefore have a working relationship with them.
Many of the mills customers it appears were now insisting on UKAS Accreditation, whereas the mills traditionally used their own country’s equivalent to UKAS, termed BELAC. Further investigation by the BFM found that some trading standard officers were advising upholstery manufacturers that UKAS was the standard they required. In consequence, BFM wrote to the Department for Business, innovation and Skills (BIS) to advise them of this practice and to seek clarification whether certain trading standard officers were acting appropriately. We were also aware that BIS were in the process a review into the consistency of approach by trading standard officers. Received reply from Mark Begbie of BIS:
“There are no provisions in the FFRs or the GPSRs that touch on accreditation and, in particular, none that would prohibit companies from requiring certification by a UKAS accredited notified body in their commercial contracts. So, as there is nothing in our national legislation, and this is not an EU harmonised field, furniture companies are free to require certification from a UKAS accredited notified body.
However, our duties as an EU Member State under EU law (i.e. not to restrict free movement of goods) mean that central and local government, including Trading Standards, should encourage furniture companies to accept certification from any accredited notified body.
Trading Standards Officers should stipulate that the testing is independent and accredited to carry out testing to the relevant standards. UKAS may be mentioned as an example of this and officers generally have greater knowledge about UKAS and how to find a test house accredited to UKAS standards than overseas accreditation. However, officers should not make this as a recommendation, nor insist on UKAS accreditation.”