The Construction Products Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 225 of 2013) were signed into law by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in June 2013, to facilitate the application of the Construction Products Regulation (or CPR) in Ireland and providing for inspection of products on the Irish market by Local Authorities. Since July 2014 structural steelwork and aluminium now fall under the CPR and therefore must carry CE marking to demonstrate that they comply with the European Commission’s harmonised standard EN 1090-1:2009 which relates to the Execution of Steel Structures and Aluminium Structures.
Under EN standard 1090, there are requirements for conformity assessment of structural components, which requires certification by a third party, known as a 'notified inspection body'. In Ireland, the certification role is performed by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).
In view of the NSAI’s final certification role, and given the roles and responsibilities of other Departments and agencies, my Department has discussed the requirements of the CPR with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DCELG), the Department of Education and Skills, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO’s) network and the NSAI.
Any difficulty facing the small business sector is of course a concern. While there is no direct funding available from this Department for companies to upskill or update their processes in order to meet the CE marking requirements, there is information and guidance available through the DCELG website, the LEO’s and the NSAI.
With regard to the role of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in providing training support for companies affected by the CPR, the LEOs were established as a first-stop-shop for the provision of advice and supports to the micro and small enterprise sector.
Five information workshops about the requirements under the CPR have been hosted over recent months by the LEO’s in conjunction with the NSAI at various locations throughout the country. Steel fabricator companies affected by the CPR requirements were advised that they could explore training provision with SOLAS, Education and Training Boards (ETB) or Institutes of Technology (IT) for welding courses, and ultimately, CE marking certification which can be organised through the NSAI for companies who have successfully implemented the requirements of the CPR.
The provision of the specialist technical training required to achieve certification to an International or European Standard, such as that required by steel fabricators in this instance, is outside of the remit of the LEO services. However, I understand that the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Shannon, Tralee and Waterford provide metal fabrication apprenticeship training, which incorporates elements of certification training.