Why is this changing?
This change was initiated by UKAS, who were reviewing the BBA Agrément Scheme and other construction product schemes. Looking at the scheme with a fresh set of eyes, they decided that the Scheme would fit better under accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020 instead of ISO/IEC 17065.
So what is happening?
We have spent the last few months amending the BBA Agrément Certificate Scheme and the BBA HAPAS Certification Scheme to suit the conformity assessment standards.
The BBA HAPAS Certification Scheme for highways products is still delivered under accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065, with a set of defined technical criteria for each product. National Highways also currently specify ISO/IEC 17065 for schemes to deliver certification. Rather than being a sector within the Agrément Scheme, HAPAS is now a standalone scheme. The assessment process remains the same, with slight changes to the Certificate format. A Scheme Document, and a companion document of Technical Specifications, is on the BBA website.
The BBA Agrément Certificate Scheme is now delivered under accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020. A Scheme Document is on the BBA website. The assessment principles remain the same, and the level of evidence required for the assessment is unchanged. The Certificate format has changed somewhat, although the overall appearance is broadly similar. Performance factors will be grouped under a consistent set of sections based on the basic requirements for construction works from Annex 1 of the Construction Products Regulation. Ongoing maintenance activities (such as surveillance and three-yearly formal Review) are still requirements of the Scheme, but carried out beyond accreditation to confirm that conclusions in the Certificate remain valid.
For both Schemes, elements of the scheme that are requirements for BBA approval but not specifically covered by the accreditation are marked as such on the Certificates; this includes additional information and guidance that supports the information in the Certificate.
When will my Certificate change?
HAPAS: Each HAPAS Product Sheet will be updated to the new format at its next Reissue, and all Certificates will be converted by the end of 2025.
Agrément: Each Agrément Product Sheet will receive an initial amendment by the end of June 2023; the amendment is to change references to accreditation and part of the Certificate conditions. Full conversions to the new format will be carried out at the next Reissue of each Product Sheet, and all Certificates will be converted by the end of 2025. So if you have multiple Product Sheets in a Certificate, there may even be a period when you have a mix of the current and new styles – but that will only be for a short while as we move through the process.
What is the cost implication for this to happen?
There is no additional cost to Certificate holders associated with applying these amendments. We will work through as quickly as we can, and will build the changes into work carried out as part of the existing standard Certificate maintenance cycle. If a Certificate Holder wishes to update one or more Product Sheet to the new format ahead of the normal schedule, this can be carried out as a paid Reissue.
Will I have to change the Certificate logo or number on my labels / products / packaging / marketing / website?
No – you won’t need to do that. The Certificate number will stay the same, and the logo is unchanged. The BBA will be making greater use of the Issue number in identifying Product Sheets, but the ‘parent’ Certificate number will be unchanged.
Were any HAPAS or Agrément Certificates issued as unaccredited?
No. There was no gap in the accreditation with the Scheme changes.
How does this impact on the level of reliance we can place on Agrément Certification as evidence of fitness for purpose and Building Regulations compliance going forward?
It won’t change. We’re still judging fitness for purpose, and we’re still judging compliance with Regulations in different applications. We’ve been involved with other stakeholders and bodies that recognise and use the Agrément Certificate, and we have shared the changes that are being made, and the reasons for them. We’re spending a lot of time working with industry to help them understand what the changes mean.
Is it a lot of work to make the necessary changes?
It will be a great deal of work. Our challenge is not the time for each Product Sheet so much as the high number of Certificates that need to be processed. We are planning the conversion process to keep as much of the work as possible away from our main operational teams, so that we can implement the changes while minimising the impact on business-as-usual; this is why we are combining the updates with normal Reissues over a three-year period.
Will my Certificate issue be delayed?
In most cases, no. Changes to the new format will be done as part of the normal assessment and Reissue services, and should not take longer than usual. The exception are the Certificates that were at an advanced stage of drafting at the time of the accreditation change. Any Certificates issued from 1st December 2022 must be in the new format, so some drafts need to be re-worked. Reworking of drafts already in the system is the first priority in the conversion process, and we apologise to clients whose Certificates are delayed in this short initial period, which has been outside of our control.
Will the types of tests required for the Certificates be affected and subsequently the timing of those tests?
The approach to assessing products, for both Agrément and HAPAS schemes, is unchanged. The information and test data requested is still based on the details of the product and its intended uses. Data and other information will continue to be requested at the beginning of an assessment.
Will the new standard have an effect on the test results required, or the accreditation of the testing laboratory generating those results?
No. It won’t change that at all. Our basic assessment strategy will stay the same, as will our acceptance criteria for test data used in assessments. Our own accreditation for testing, to ISO/IEC 17025 is not affected by these changes.
Does this affect my test report / UKTA / FPC 2+ / MCS / Approved Installer / Management System Certificate?
Not at all. This only affects Agrément and HAPAS Certificates.
What value does UKAS add to BBA activities?
The BBA has been accredited for more than 35 years for different activities, and UKAS accreditation is a differentiator because it answers the question ‘Who checks the Checkers?’. It provides that extra level of assurance. We continue to be supportive of the value added by accreditation.
Is the BBA adopting any version control for Certificates to enable access to previous versions of Certificates in line with the CCPI Clause 2? (Clause 2 is: A Manufacturer must have in place a formal version control process for all Product Information.)
This is not the current intention. We’ve always taken the approach that only the most recent issue of a Certificate should be made accessible, although of course we have a full archive of issued Product Sheets for all Certificates. Each Product Sheet identifies its original and latest issue date, and the current issue number. Previous issues can be made available if there is good reason, but are unlikely to be available publicly. Having Certificates available with content that is not up-to-date, and / or with changes to products covered, could be misleading. The Certificates undergo an ongoing process of Review and Reissue, where manufacturer’s product information is assessed and updated as required. Locations subject to BBA Factory Production Control are also expected to maintain version-controlled documentation.
What other changes might you make in the future?
Where we’d like to be working alongside other bodies working on construction product testing, approval or certification, and alongside industry and government departments so that right across the construction industry there is an agreed approach to product approvals, to make ourselves as an industry more consistent and more robust.