Non CPR-Compliant Cable? What should you do?
The idea behind the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) is to make sure that any cable installed into a building will react safely to a fire: i.e. the cable will not help a fire spread, make it more intense or release smoke and acid gas.
Given the current focus on fire safety, there is really no excuse for not paying attention to the credentials of the cable that you are providing, or installing.
CPR makes it a legal responsibility for anyone who makes, imports or sells cable in the UK to ensure that cable destined to be used in a building is compliant with the new regulation: but how do the contractors know that it is?
Actually, that’s the easy bit. All compliant cable should have lots of information attached to the packaging and it should also have more detailed paperwork available on request.
What to check
Firstly, there should be a nice obvious CE Mark to show that the product is consistent with its Declaration of Performance (DoP).
The CE mark is likely to be part of a larger CE label which will tell you who manufactured the cable, which standards it has been tested to and who tested it. The label will also carry the reference number of the DoP that relates to that product.
The wholesaler then also has to be able to provide a copy of the DoP.
Ask to see it.
The DoP contains information on the origin of the product together with the performance characteristics you can expect from the cable. This is really important, because the whole idea is to make sure that cable installed into buildings is safe in the event of a fire.
The process is there to make sure that when you buy cable you can be absolutely sure that it is safe to use. All the marking and identification involved is to make sure that cable is traceable. If any unsafe cable is found in the supply chain then it will be possible to find out at once who was responsible for making it and selling it – both of which are illegal acts.
What’s the problem?
We know that there is lots of cable in the market that does not comply with CPR. It’s never easy to introduce this type of regulation unless the industry is committed to making sure it works – so everyone has their part to play. For the contractor, it’s easy. Just check that the cable you buy is marked correctly and has the right paperwork attached.
If cable is being sold that does not have the right marking it’s a serious problem. Errors in paperwork may well indicate an issue in the manufacture or testing of the product and no-one wants to be responsible for installing dangerous cable.
Who to call
If you think you have spotted non-compliant cable, it is REALLY IMPORTANT that you report it. Firstly, you should bring it to the attention of the person from whom you bought the cable (it’s their legal responsibility to make sure the products are compliant). If you don’t get a satisfactory answer from them, then you should report it to your local Trading Standards Office and to the Approved Cables Initiative on 0208 946 6978 or www.aci.org.uk.
Let’s support this initiative and make sure unsafe cable is eliminated from the UK.