Written evidence submitted by Kingspan [BSB 277]


Kingspan is one of the largest manufacturers of construction products in the UK, with over 100 sites and 14,000 employees in 70 countries. The majority of our business focusses on building envelope products such as insulation but our product range also includes flooring, air flow systems, hot water systems, rainwater harvesting solutions, smart energy monitoring, and smoke management systems. Roughly 25% of our business is based in the UK and Ireland, including our Head Office, 3,000 staff, and 18 manufacturing sites. Our sites are located in:


Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

Gransden, Cambs

Ayrshire, SW Scotland

Holywell, Wales

Ballyclare, Northern Ireland

Hull, East Yorkshire

Basildon, Essex

Newry, Northern Ireland

Beverly. East Yorkshire

Pembridge, Herefordshire

Cardiff, Wales

Portadown, Northern Ireland

Digbeth, Birmingham

Glossop, Derbyshire                                                     

Selby, North Yorkshire

Sherburn, North Yorkshire


Wakefield, West Yorkshire


Our commitments to the highest standards of safety, quality, engineering excellence, sustainability, and innovation are instilled at every level of the company and at every step in the manufacturing process. Our aim is to make a positive impact on the communities and the environment in which we operate.


We are submitting evidence on the Draft Building Safety Bill as there are several aspects of the Bill that directly impact on the way the manufacturers operate in the construction sector, including testing, marking and certification of construction products.

Kingspan are broadly supportive of the Draft Building Safety Bill and it’s goals, especially concerning competence from professionals in the built environment, accountability for responsible persons, the sharing / storing of building information and the creation of enhanced regulation for dealing with construction products not covered by designated standards.

Before moving onto our comments on Schedule 8, we briefly wish to look at whether the Bill has established an appropriate scope for the new regulatory system. The Draft Safety Bill sets out requirements for “higher-risk buildings” which are defined based on specific occupancy and height conditions. We note that Dame Judith’s Report identifies buildings of over 10 storeys in height as having the highest risk and states in paragraph 1.3 that “the likelihood of fire is greater in purpose-built blocks of flats of 10 storeys or more than in those with fewer storeys and, particularly after the fire at Grenfell Tower, the rate of fatalities is also greater in such buildings”.  We therefore conclude that the regime should apply to buildings over 10 storeys rather than 18m.

We note that Dame Judith’s finding in Appendix C of her Report that “there is a higher rate of fire-related fatalities in high-rise purpose-built residential accommodation of 10 storeys or more with around three times as many fatalities as compared with purpose-built flats below 10 storeys. There is little difference between the rate of fire-related fatalities in purpose built blocks of flats that have one to three storeys and those with four to nine storeys.”

Kingspan have no specific comments, or are broadly supportive of the majority of provisions within the bill, but do have a few comments in relation to Schedule 8. Schedule 8 breaks construction products down into 3 types under the new regulatory regime; designated products, “safety-critical” products placed on a statutory list and “safe products”. By facilitating creation of regulations for all categories of product, this should ensure that construction products meet the criteria for being safe products, while also ensuring that the marketing and testing of construction products is consistent across the manufacturing sector.

Schedule 8 and its wording is focused on Construction products. One area for consideration is that a large number of products are utilised in systems/assemblies/kits in conjunction with various other products. The best approach to assessing suitability and safety of systems of products is for them to be treated not in isolation, but as an assembly of building products. While Kingspan recognise the importance of individual product testing and declarations of performance for products, this won’t necessarily achieve the goal of improving the testing regime sufficiently to command full confidence of the sector.

Focusing on products over systems ignores the complex interactions of products and interfaces present in all constructions. System testing allows for the analysis of safety of products used more closely to their end use application, rather than in isolation. Products that could be classified as safe when tested individually could form systems with other products which are then unsafe. Equally a product labelled as  ‘unsafe’ product may be entirely safe as part of a system in application.

From a recent presentation given to the Construction Products Association by MHCLG, we understand that the statutory list of “safety-critical” products will be based around product families, rather than specific manufacturers or products. A product family could be fairly generic in description, and as some product families have a number of different applications it may be more appropriate to give this aspect of the new regulations a level of ability to adapt and interpret different building materials and their intended use.

Regarding new products and innovation, how responsive to emerging products will the new regulatory regime be? Assuming that a product launches without a designated standard or UK technical assessment, at what stage would this be considered by the Secretary of State for inclusion on the safety critical list? It would be problematic for manufacturers to undertake testing and analysis of products to prove a general safety requirement, to then be forced to undertake replacement testing in order to satisfy requirements for the safety-critical list.

If a product is placed on the safety-critical list, and at a later date a designated standard or UK Technical Assessment becomes available, how will the mechanism work for transitioning products to “designated products” and coming off that list?

How do the new regulations look to interpret the large number of products with existing European Technical Assessments? Will these be accepted as designated products, or will all ETA’s require reassessment from a UK notified body to become a UKTA? If reassessment is required, and testing is required from UK test labs to substantiate this reviews, this could create a considerable backlog.

Have the provisions of the Bill and the expected requirements for testing and certification been discussed fully with UK notified bodies, test houses and certification bodies? While things may continue similarly under the new regime for designated products, if a large number of products are categorised as safety-critical this could put further pressure on the capacity of these organisations. In our experience there is already a significant delay when trying to book tests and arrange for 3rd party certification of products.

Where construction products are to be placed on the safety critical list and a new standard is commissioned by the Secretary of State, upon completion of the standard what will the transitional period be for manufacturers to comply with the new standard? As noted previously there could be significant delays where new testing of products is required given the limited capacity of UK test houses.

A further issue to consider the Draft Safety Bill is the supply chain and how this factors into the collection of Building Safety Information. While some manufacturers will sell direct to the end customer, it’s quite common for products route to market to be through distributors. Traceability needs to be enacted throughout the supply chain. For manufacturers, this must go beyond finding out where the raw materials used for manufacturing products come from, and extend to product leaving factory gates and ultimately to the building it ends up used in. In a highly fragmented industry, this is easier said than done, however, it is a vital step to increasing trust and accountability in our industry and implementing Dame Judith Hackitt’s golden thread of information.

A number of the points we have raised are more to do with the practicalities of the new regime, rather than commentary on the overarching legislation itself. While the Bill looks set to make a number of important changes for construction products which should ensure a more robust mechanism for ensuring products on the market are safe, our concerns would be over how this is to be implemented and whether suitable timescales/ transitionary periods would be introduced to allow manufacturers to make sure they have the relevant testing and certification available to comply with the new regime.


September 2020