The National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) is making a special appeal to block makers to ensure that standards are maintained in their production processes.
Inspector-in-Charge, Import and Domestic Commodities Inspectorate, NCRA, Dr Wendell Richards, said checks carried out by inspectors have revealed substandard blocks from some block makers.
Speaking at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, Richards reminded block makers that there is a compulsory standard.
“Note, as well, that Jamaica sits on a fault line (and) we spend more time in a building than outside; therefore, the blocks have to be compliant,” he emphasised.
Richards explained that substandard hollow blocks can be the result of not using the correct material, not using material in the right quantities, among other factors.
These deviate from the existing compulsory standard JS 35:2011 for standard hollow concrete blocks, which Richards said puts “fellow citizens, your own family, friends and loved ones at risk”.
Though the authority does not offer consultancy services, it is open to pointing interested block makers in the right direction to ensure guidance from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and adherence to regulations.
“If you don’t know what to do, come to us. We will put you in conversation with the right experts, and they are going to guide you through. When you speak to us, as well, we will guide you through the regulatory process, so that you become compliant,” said Richards.
He advised that persons who are interested in the block-making business should make three blocks and present them to the BSJ for testing. The results should be taken to the NCRA and after registration, an inspector will be assigned to conduct a site visit.
There are three main block sizes – 100 mm or four inches; 150 mm or six inches; and 200 mm or eight inches. The NCRA will inspect a sample of 10 blocks; therefore, if a block maker applies to make all three sizes, a sample of 30 blocks must be prepared for testing.
Richards stressed that the samples must meet the minimum specifications to be passed, but block makers should aim to exceed the minimum specifications.
“The most important specification is the compressive strength of seven megapascals. That is the minimum you should meet. (Do not simply) try to meet seven megapascals, because if anything goes wrong you will fall below that,” he said.
The Import and Domestic Commodities Inspectorate of the NCRA works at all major ports of entry and throughout retail outlets within the domestic space. In the domestic market, they conduct targeted inspection and monitoring work in five product categories, one of which is construction and material units.
To access the list of standards for building and associated materials, persons can visit the NCRA’s website at ww.ncra.org.jm.