Press Release
18 January 2011

MEP WELCOMES EU STANDARDS TO MAKE BUILDING MATERIALS SAFER AND CHEAPER
Building materials in North East DIY shops and builders' merchants are set to become safer after new standards for an EU quality mark were agreed by Euro-MPs this week.

In addition to boosting the safety and quality of construction products available, the changes are also expected to bring prices down by making it easier for smaller companies to sell their products on the EU market.

North East Labour MEP Stephen Hughes, said these new standards come at a crucial time: "RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) estimates that injuries from tools and machinery are estimated to account for 87,000 of the 220,000 DIY enthusiasts turning up at hospital each year. As the tough economic conditions bite, more and more people, myself included, will try to tackle sometimes quite significant work at home.

"It is therefore more important than ever that those buying construction materials understand how they should be used to avoid accident or injury.

These new standards mean that materials must be sold with safety advice, as well as information about any hazardous substances that might be involved.

"The new standards mean that people will be able buy their building materials with confidence. The CE mark is a clear statement that says a product is tested and is up to scratch."

Euro-MPs approved the new standards in a vote today alongside changes to make it easier for smaller companies to market and sell their products across the European Union. The costs of some materials are expected to come down as a result of the changes.

The new rules will come into force in 2013, giving companies time to adapt to the new legislation. Special provisions are included for smaller businesses to make it easier for them to meet the new rules.

Products that are to be sold on the EU market will need to meet certain standards for safety and quality. They will also need to be sold alongside clear information explaining how they can be safely used, including information such as any hazardous substances that may be included.

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Notes for editors
DIY accident statistics from the RoSPA website:

Injuries from tools and machinery are estimated to account for 87,000 of the 220,000 DIY enthusiasts turning up at hospital each year.

Ladder and stepladder accidents send 41,000 people to hospital annually - often resulting in some of the most serious injuries and even death when people fall from high up.

Splinters, grit, dust, dirt and other particles result in another 60,000 people seeking treatment in casualty.

The most dangerous tools according to the Home Accident Surveillance System (2002) are:

1. Knives and scalpels (21,300 accidents in the UK each year)

2. Saws (15,100)

3. Grinders (6,400)

4. Hammers (5,800)

5. Chisels (3,900)

6. Screwdrivers (3,400)

7. Power Drills (3,000)

8. Axes (2,200)

9. Planes (2,100)

10. Welding Equipment (2,000).

The top ten DIY materials to take care with are:

1. Wood, chipboard etc. (29,400 accidents)

2. Paving/Concrete Blocks (21,200)

3. Metal bars, sheets etc. (12,800)

4. Nails (15,400)

5. Bricks (8,000)

6. Paint and paint pots (3,900)

7. Glue, paste etc. (3,100)

8. Screws and floor/wall tiles (2,500)

10. Wallpaper (1,600).

Common DIY accidents include cuts from knives while cutting cable and carpets, slips with saws when cutting wood, paint dripping into eyes from ceilings and slabs falling onto hands and feet.

Many accidents could be avoided by spending more time on planning and ensuring that safety gear - such as gloves, masks and goggles - is worn when necessary. People often make mistakes when they rush jobs or are tired. Many people overestimate their capabilities, for instance gas and electric work should be left to the experts.