New guide to European standards to help hardware firms

Douglas Masterson
Douglas Masterson
Douglas Masterson

In the wake of the referendum vote to leave Europe, the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) is publishing a new technical briefing on the impact of Brexit on European architectural ironmongery and door hardware standards.

Douglas Masterson, technical manager of the GAI, said: “The simple message is one of no change, at least for a couple of years.

“While the UK is in some political and economic upheaval at the moment, you must remember that we are still a member of the European Union for at least the next two years. A withdrawal agreement must now be negotiated, but the legal situation today is currently exactly the same as it was last month.

“Most of the product standards for door hardware and related products were developed over the past 20 years or more by CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation. The UK has provided the convenor of the CEN working group responsible for building hardware since its inception in the late 1980s.

“And although it’s based in Brussels, CEN is entirely separate from the European Commission and is not part of the EU structure. Membership of CEN is through a country’s National Standards Body. In our case, this is the BSI, and our membership is not related to our position within the EU. We have heard no suggestion whatsoever that the UK wants to withdraw from membership of CEN.”

However, the GAI is looking at the complexities that arise from ‘harmonised standards’ which are compulsory under the Construction Products Regulations, unlike the use of many other BS EN standards, and which underpin the requirements for CE Marking.

The list of these harmonised standards covers much of the hardware on fire and smoke control doors used internally and on escape routes, including single axis hinges, door closing devices, locks and latches, panic and emergency exit hardware.

Douglas Masterson added: “The Construction Products Regulations and legal requirements for CE Marking are still firmly in place. So those harmonised standards must continue to be observed.

“The CE Mark, when applied to ironmongery products, is there to help customers be certain that the item they are being offered will perform well and help to ensure a safe environment for the building users for many years.

“Any manufacturer who exports goods to any EU Member State is also still going to be required to comply with CE marking in order to place their product on the market there. That will remain the case, even if the UK decides in due course to make such standards voluntary in the UK.

“We must also keep in mind that many GAI members are working in the Gulf, Asia and other regions of the world where British and EU standards are routinely specified as a mark of quality and reliability. We do not anticipate that changing as a result of Brexit.”

The GAI has a wide range of guides to standards available to download from the members’ area of its website, at www.gai.org.uk/members/technical-area/standards. These explain not only what each standard is itself, but also provides some information on the products it relates to. Further technical advice is also available via the GAI’s technical helpline.