Understanding UKCA, CE, UKEX & ATEX in the Post Brexit UK Fan Market
With new regulations, constant changes to deadlines and transition dates set to December 2024, it’s difficult to understand exactly what is changing in terms of product laws, labelling and compliance in the UK market. This can be even more confusing with an already sensitive product such as ATEX fans and those for explosive environments. The below seeks to simplify your understanding of UKCA, UKEX and ATEX to ensure you can understand your fan supplier when requesting product information or a quote alongside constantly changing regulations. Regardless of the below we’ll always ensure our products are certified correctly according to their hazardous area classification, category, and Country of use with supporting documentation or labelling, whichever is applicable. So, let’s get to breaking down the jargon shall we.
UKCA is the New CE marking for the UK market (or it was until 1st August 2023 when the Government announced an indefinite extension of the CE mark)
You’ll be familiar with the letters CE on many products that you purchase, either for domestic or industrial purposes. This CE marking shows that the manufacturer has checked that these products meet the EU health and safety requirements to be placed on the market. CE stands for Conformitè Europëenne (CE) Mark and is defined as the European Union’s (EU) mandatory conformity marking. The plan was that this would no longer be applicable in the UK market in the future, instead they had to be recertified under the UKCA quality mark. Manufacturers could choose to show one, or both if selling in the UK market. So lots of products will still have a CE mark alongside the new UK marking if the product is supplied in the UK and the EU. On 1st August, the government announced a press release that would extend the use of the CE mark indefinitely. After months and months of business owners complaining about the red tape and additional costs, the governments smarter regulation drive will remove these costs and time, reducing the burdens on manufacturers and boosting growth for the UK economy.
What is UKCA and Can it Still be Used if You’re Already Using It?
When the UK left the European Union, UK legislation began to evolve and move away from EU law. As a result, a new conformity assessment marking scheme was introduced called the UK Conformity Assessment, hence UKCA. This legislation covers England, Scotland, and Wales but not Northern Ireland.
If you manufacture, distribute, or import products that fall into any of the required criteria, one such example applicable to us is equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres: ATEX fans, then you will need to use UKCA marking by law in time for the planned transition date. These dates change and are extended regularly as the Government recognise that it could be a long-winded process for some manufacturers to implement on short deadlines, so it’s worth checking official Government sites for updated clauses on extended transition dates and deadlines. The Government announced the provisions for UKCA marking and labelling would be extended until December 31st, 2024. All products must be suitably labelled by 1st January 2025. This change applied to manufacturers and importers. It is imperative that you understand the basics of product safety laws and regulations that apply to specific products especially if you make, import, distribute or sell products in the UK. Obviously from 1st august 2023 and the indefinite backtrack on these dates, you now no longer require this UKCA mark, but if you’ve already being using it, you can still continue to use the CE mark alongside UKCA.
What is the Equipment & Protective Systems Intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres regulation 2016 (UK) and how is it relevant?
As part of the UK’s process of leaving the European Union, new statutory instruments were created to enable them to function effectively across potentially explosive marketplaces. The 2016 UK regulations set out the requirements that must be met before products can be placed on the UK market. The purpose of the legislation is to the safety of products in the UK market by requiring manufacturers to show how their products meet essential health and safety requirements. On 8th December 2016 the previous 1996 regulations were revoked but continue to apply to relevant products placed on the market prior to this date. The 2016 regulations implemented the entire ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU.
The ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU, previously 94/9/EC, is a European directive and falls within the scope of CE marking and applies to the manufacturer or supplier of equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX). The aim of the Directive is to allow free trade of ATEX equipment within the EU by removing the need for separate testing and documentation for each Country or state. Manufacturers who placed the CE marking and the Ex-marking can sell their product in any EU Country without any further requirements with respect to the risks covered being applied.
UKEX is the New UK ATEX Equivalent (or at least it was until the indefinite extension of UKCA mark, therefore ATEX still applies)
When the UK left the EU, UK Government issues a very large Statutory instrument applying a whole new set of legislation: UKSI:2019:696 which included multiple pages converting the existing ATEX SI to be fit for purpose in the UK market after Brexit. As this title was a little long winded UK based bodies agreed to use the term UKEX as the closest alternative to ATEX. Therefore, UKEX replaces ATEX as part of the certificate number as well as being the generic reference in the UK as the substitute for ATEX in the future.
In summary, the required EU CE Marking is supported by ATEX documentation while UKCA marking is supported by UKEX documentation. Both technical requirements will stay the same and labelling will continue to utilise the stylised hexagon surrounding the Ex-mark.
As of the 1st August press release, as mentioned above, the government intends to extend recognition of the CE marketing for placing most goods on the market in GB. This also applies to equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres and will continue to use the term ATEX, but it’s always good to understand what could have happened right?
The extension will provide businesses with flexibility and choice to use either the UKCA or CE approach to sell products in Great Britain. The decision means that companies will now be able to choose whether they use the UKCA symbol or retain the ATEX mark by having their products certified by an accredited European body.
The Responsibility of Authorised Representatives: Axair & SEAT Ventilation
Manufacturers are able to appoint authorised representatives to perform certain tasks on their behalf. In terms of our example to explain this a little better, Axair has sub manufactured fans for corrosive environments which are manufactured by SEAT Ventilation, for over 30 years and is the Authorised UK representative for their UK activities. So how does this work in terms of UKCA approval?
The authorised representative must comply with all duties imposed on the manufacturer under the 2016 regulations that they are appointed by the manufacturer to perform such as ensuring compliance of labelling, retaining ATEX product files and technical documentation, and that hazardous area classifications are supplied explicitly by the end user. There are duties that the manufacturer cannot authorise the representative to do including conformity assessments. The manufacturer will remain responsible for the proper performance of the authorised representative to perform duties on their behalf.
UK Transition from CE to UKCA if it had of Happened
To assist with the transition from CE to UKCA, the UK is applying a transitional period ending 31st December 2024 to allow UK operators who import goods into the UK market, to provide their details on accompanying documentation as an alternative to the product itself (even where it would be possible to apply to the product).
“A key principle underpinning product safety is traceability of product back to its source.”
Axair will continue to ensure that the products under our responsibility carry official technical documentations of conformity and maintain that their storage and transport conditions will not jeopardise their conformity with the health & safety requirements.
What about Existing CE Marked Stock?
The UK will allow CE marked equipment and protective systems that have been either self-certified as compliant or where compliance must and has been demonstrated through recognised conformity assessment body to be placed on the UK market by 11pm on 31st December 2024 This product can circulate in the market after this date and does not need a retest or remarking. Learn more about the UKEX scheme here, where we go into further detail about why it has been introduced, the importance of hazardous area classifications and the processes involved in DSEAR risk assessments.
We intend to keep this document updated along with changes to legislation but if you have any questions relating to UKCA on industrial fans please email [email protected].