The Cabling Industry Invests In People’s Safety

Koen ter Linde explains the importance of cabling safety regulations within our hospitals, buildings and universities. On 1 July 2017, all cables must have a CE marking on the packaging label, meaning the product meets health and safety standards required for commercial use. CommScope customers can rest assured they will have access to cabling which meets the EU’s Cable Construction Products Regulation (CPR).

CPR_SmallWhen building or decorating our homes, we want to make sure materials such as curtains, carpet or furniture fabrics are safe. Checking the flammability of those items is highly advisable, given that our loved ones’ safety is at stake. However, we spend our time in other places too: the office, concert halls, public buildings, schools and hospitals. But how do we know all construction products have properly been selected?

To address this, the European regulators introduced the Construction Product Directive (CPD) to classify fire safety in 1989, which later became the Construction Product Regulation (CPR) in 2011.

As an EU Regulation, the CPR is directly applicable in all EU countries. The classification of the reaction to fire of all construction products including copper and fiber communications cables was published in 2016 and the final mandatory date to establish CE marking of cables is 1 July 2017. All cables manufactured on this date and beyond must have a CE marking on the packaging label, meaning the product meets health and safety standards required for commercial use.

There are seven Euroclasses: Aca, B1ca, B2ca, Cca, Dca, Eca and Fca, with Aca having the highest performance and Fca having the lowest. Euroclass Eca cables meet the minimum requirement of EN 60332-1-2. Read the CommScope white paper on CPR to find out which fire test standards each of the Euroclasses refers to.

An entity as diverse as the EU could not make the requirements consistent across the entire continent. In turn, each member country can adopt whichever Euroclass the country deems suitable. However, the following philosophy currently applies:

(a) If national regulations exist, they have to be adjusted to match the CPR.

(b) If national regulations do not exist, there is no requirement to institute them.

(c) The CPR may be directly applicable to certain applications such as public transport tunnels irrelevant of condition (b).

Simply put, different EU countries may require cables with different Euroclassification for use in the same installation environment. For example, some countries may require Euroclass B2ca cables to be installed in hospitals whereas other countries may accept Euroclass Cca cables.

It’s important to highlight that, since the CPR only applies to power and communications cables permanently installed in buildings, patch cords and work area cords are excluded from the regulation.

To allow easy identification, every product brought to the EU market has to carry the adequate CE label with reference to the applicable Euroclass.

However, nothing is free and safety will be no less; it is highly likely that the CPR will increase the testing and manufacturing cost of communication cables, especially for the higher Euroclasses.

Our customers can rest assured. CommScope manufacturing facilities serving the European market have been audited and approved by Notified Bodies. Also, CommScope has carried out extensive testing with multiple Notified Bodies for several years and we can confirm CommScope will have completed testing of all our cables ahead of the July 1st deadline. CommScope will be ready to provide the proper Declarations of Performance for our cable products prior to that date.