Marking the difference

How do you know the products you are choosing from the myriad options available are of an acceptable standard? CE marking provides a vital source of confidence, ensuring lasting safety and quality.

Conformité Européene, more commonly known as the CE mark, is a legal certification for all manufacturers, whether they are making bathroom products within the EU, or exporting products into the EU.

The certification mark is an indication of health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area, and has existed in its present form since 1985.

When thinking about the CE, most people picture toys, or perhaps electrical appliances. It is often overlooked that bathroom accessories, including baths, toilets, basins, shower trays, shower screens and more all fall under the category of construction materials, and so must comply.

Why is CE marking important?

CE marking ensures consumers and specifiers know they are buying products with a consistent level of health and safety protection, making sure they are not being exploited by manufacturers who are buying cheap illegal products and then selling them at an inflated price.

Sometimes, your installer may recommend cheaper products to save you money, as Damian Walters, of the British Institute of Installation for kitchen and bathroom products explains: “Unfortunately, the UK market is flooded with products that simply don’t meet the stringent safety and quality requirements of those with a CE mark.

“While quality is important, safety is paramount when it comes to bathroom products, especially when you consider the potentially lethal mix of water and electricity.

“With an ever price-aware consumer prevalent, buyers are often attracted to installers who offer a ‘cheap’ service proposition – these tradesmen are often able to reduce costs by compromising on product – product that doesn’t meet the CE mark of assurance.”

What are the repercussions?

Consumers are not breaking the law by buying non CE marked products, it is the manufacturer placing the illegal products onto the market that is liable. However, if you, knowingly or otherwise, install illegal products into a bathroom, you are breaking the law. If you buy illegal products and you ask someone else to install them, the installer is breaking the law.

Since 2013, it has been a legal offence for a manufacturer to not correctly CE mark a product, to falsely CE mark a product, and to fail to CE mark a product for which it is required.

Penalties for manufacturers often include a £5,000 fine and a maximum of three months in jail for the director of the offending company. Reputable manufacturers will do their best to test their own products before they go on sale, so it is vital that specifiers choose CE marked products. Make sure you look for the CE mark when considering bathroom products, and if there isn’t one clearly visible, ask why not. If you can’t ask why not, don’t buy it.

Besides the legal repercussions, improperly tested products can cause serious injuries, especially in the bathroom. In January this year, the national press covered the story of a one year old who was being bathed by her mum, when their glass shower screen exploded. It showered the toddler with shards of glass, inflicting multiple cuts to her head and body. In another incident at an international airport, a man sustained serious cuts when the toilet he was on tipped over and smashed.

Any reputable manufacturer will have their CE mark “declaration of performance” displayed on their website. If you install a non-CE marked product, and someone suffers as a result, you will have no fallback.

Produced in partnership with: 
Roman Ltd