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Evolving 3rd Party Certification to Embrace the Golden Thread.

In case you missed it, here is what you need to know from Andrew Hutchison's speech at the Fire Safety Event. 

Andrew Hutchison presenting Speech at the Fire Safety Event

Understanding the Golden Thread


In essence, the Golden Thread is about ensuring that the right people have the right information at the right time. This principle is crucial for managing risk effectively, particularly for product manufacturers in the construction sector. 


According to the Health and Safety Executive, building information must be:

  • Digital

  • Secure

  • A single source of truth

  • Available to those who need it

  • Timely

  • Usable

With these principles in mind, UKTC conducted a comprehensive review of third-party product certification in the fire safety industry. Here are our four key recommendations.


1. Centralised Digital Documentation


Our review highlighted a critical need for a streamlined approach to certification documentation management. Currently, data is scattered across multiple platforms, leading to inefficiencies and discrepancies. Manufacturers often upload outdated PDF certificates on their websites, while the most recent versions are on the certification body's site. This disjointed information flow creates confusion and undermines the validity of certifications.

We propose establishing a centralised repository for certification documents, accessible through a single authoritative source. This would ensure digital accessibility, version control, and verification protocols, providing stakeholders with up-to-date and accurate product information consistently. Centralising documents on the certification body's website as a "single source of truth" enhances transparency, trust, and minimises the risk of misinformation.


2. Clear and Unambiguous Certification Marks


Our investigation revealed significant issues with how certified products are marked. Certification marks should be designed so that even the least knowledgeable stakeholders can easily identify a product's provenance and performance. However, we found that many stakeholders struggled to understand these marks.

For instance, when shown a certification mark for a fire door, only about 25% of professionals recognised it, and a mere 10% could accurately state the door's performance without further research. To address this, we recommend basic requirements for product labels, including:

  • The name of the voluntary third-party scheme

  • Reference to the product's certificate

  • Manufacturer contact details

  • A unique identifier like a serial number

  • Product classification

  • Instructions for handling, maintenance, and installation

Implementing these measures ensures that stakeholders have the necessary information to make informed decisions, benefiting everyone from consumers to professionals.


3. Scheme Rules Shall be Accessible and Independently Verified


Our review also uncovered that many certification scheme rules are inaccessible and overly complex. Even industry experts struggle to navigate these convoluted regulations, which vary across certification bodies. Some schemes require ongoing audit testing, while others do not, creating inconsistencies and confusion.

We propose a collaborative effort among certification bodies, industry representatives, and regulators to establish a unified minimum standard for third-party certification schemes. These standards should be clear, accessible, and written in plain English, making it easier for stakeholders at all levels to understand and compare certifications. This unified approach will enhance accountability and ensure schemes are fit for purpose in a changing marketplace.


4. Unbroken Chain of Evidence


Finally, we emphasise the importance of a traceable chain of evidence for any compliance claims. A one-page certificate alone is insufficient for ensuring transparency and accountability. Manufacturers should provide a certificate that includes references to the documents verifying the product's performance. These supporting documents should be easily accessible, allowing stakeholders to review the evidence behind the product's compliance.

We recommend including a direct link on the product certificate to the repository of supporting evidence. This approach enhances transparency, accountability, and confidence in the certification process, ensuring stakeholders can trust that the product performs as claimed.




In summary, third-party certification plays a crucial role in upholding the Golden Thread's principles. To truly align with the Golden Thread, third-party certification must evolve and improve. Transitioning to digital documentation, providing clear product markings, making scheme rules accessible, and establishing a traceable chain of evidence are essential steps towards enhancing the effectiveness and credibility of third-party certification.

By implementing these recommendations, we can move towards a future where trust, transparency, and integrity are the foundation of our built environment. Together, let's move towards a future where trust, transparency, and integrity form the solid foundation of built environment​.

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