19th January 2021
F Parr Ltd is a well known supplier of workplace equipment, based in Redditch in the West Midlands, UK. Parrs has been around for over 130 years, and you don’t get that far without consistently high quality products and a reputation for reliability.
For many years, they have sold a step stool called ‘Kick Step’. It’s their own design, manufactured not too far from their UK headquarters. They supply household names like Tesco, Asda and One Stop, as well as selling them online. Like any responsible user of work at height equipment, their clients were asking for independent verification that the product conforms with BS EN 14183:2003 – the British and European Standard for step stools.
Parrs believed their step stool was fully compliant. The only problem was, they couldn’t prove it. They knew they needed a Certification Mark.
The Certification process goes further than product testing. It also involves an audit of production management, to ensure the product off the production line is equal (or better) than the product supplied for the initial assessment. Regular risk-based surveillance audits are completed to ensure ongoing compliance.
Going through this rigorous process would show Parrs’ customers the quality of the step stool and reassure them that it isn’t going to slide out from under the user or crack under pressure. Buyers need to know their workers will be safe while using these products, and Certification would give them this confidence.
So, Parrs contacted a number of UK and European test laboratories and Certification Bodies for help. But they struggled to get a straight answer. In some cases, even getting a quote was difficult.
Then, in March 2020, Parrs approached the access product specialists at the Test & Research Centre for help. Parrs’ Managing Director, Richard Scholes, picks up the story:
“We had been trying to find a test lab for three years. The Test & Research Centre was the first that listened to our particular requirements and offered a sensible, well costed plan to achieve Certification.”
The Test & Research Centre is a specialist test laboratory and Certification Body focused on non-powered access equipment. It manages a number of certification schemes for industry bodies PASMA and the Ladder Association. Products which pass rigorous testing, together with a factory audit of production controls, can be granted a licence to use the T&RGETMARK.
The team there was pleased to help. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in the UK not long after the first conversation – introducing some unexpected hurdles to the process! – they commenced work with Parrs and their manufacturer. The step stool was tested at the Centre’s test laboratory in Soham, Cambridgeshire during the summer of 2020. The testing involves:
Once lockdown restrictions eased, the production audit was undertaken at Parrs’ moulding supplier. The audit included:
Once all the evaluation tasks were complete, the Certification Decision was made in November and it was good news for Parrs as they were granted Certification and use of the T&RGETMARK. The Kick Step holds the honour of being the very first product ever to hold this mark.
Parr were thrilled with the decision to grant Certification. Richard Scholes said at the time:
“Against the backdrop of Covid, the test process was smooth and stages were well communicated.
“Certification is important to us because the principal aims for this product have always been its environmental credentials and its safety. Therefore certification endorses our view that we manufacture the safest kick step on the market, which is also made from recycled materials.
“Our customers expect the best quality product and we do not compromise on quality and sustainability. Certification will enable us to offer our product to other major retailers with confidence.”
Richard went on to say;
“They were helpful, constructive and efficient, and a lot less stuffy than I had expected from a test centre!”
It’s also an exciting and important step forward for the Test & Research Centre. Since opening at the beginning of the year, it is quickly becoming the leader in access equipment testing. John Darby, General Manager, commented,
“This is great news for Parrs and for us. Parrs had struggled to find a helpful and competent certification body. Even during the pandemic, we were able to work with them and demonstrate the Kick Step’s conformity with EN 14183.”
“This is the first T&RGETMARK we have granted. Something we should celebrate, especially given the year we have all had. The fact it’s been granted to a company like Parrs, with a very long history behind it, makes it all the better.”
Using our knowledge and experience of the ladder and scaffold tower industry, we help producers and importers with product testing and Certification. If you’re buying these products, for the ultimate reassurance look for the T&RGETMARK and ask to see a Certificate of Conformity.
If you are a manufacturer, supplier or importer looking at product testing and Certification, contact us for a friendly chat about how we can help.