HAPAS: What’s behind the certification?

HAPAS stands for the Highways Authority Product Approval Scheme, which was developed by market experts to offer consistent and clear testing methods for products and systems designed for use in the highways industry.  It is run and maintained exclusively by the British Board of Agrément (BBA) one of the UK’s leading organisations offering approval, certification and test services to manufacturers supplying the construction industry. Products that are ‘approved’ lead the way in providing definitive guidance for local authorities and contractors alike on highway maintenance.

A HAPAS certificate can be perceived as just a piece of paper but it requires a significant amount of work and investment from businesses seeking approvals. Testing can typically cost 30k per certificate, depending on the product or system being assessed.

Certificates are issued through a rigorous assessment process which involves laboratory and field testing, the latter of which can take up to two years, as well as regular site inspections and performance trials.

Once the certificate is issued, the manufacturer is audited every 6 months to ensure the assessment criteria is being maintained. Such inspections include calibration of equipment, review of packaging and raw material suppliers as well as ensuring that each person involved in the product’s production is adequately trained.  If the manufacturer needs to change any of the ingredients or processes involved in producing the product, they have to gain approval from the BBA.

The certificate is re-assessed every 3 years in order for it to be re-issued. Manufacturers, like Instarmac who produce a range of HAPAS approved highways maintenance materials under their UltraCrete brand, undergo further scrutiny and are required to provide sites where their products have been in-situ for some time. These sites are inspected to verify the product’s integrity; its formulation is also tested to ensure it matches the version that was initially sanctioned. The 6 monthly and 3 yearly reviews incur further costs which are considerable over the life of the certificate.

Any product that has such approval can boast assurance of confidence and long-term proven durability.

It raises the question of why? Why would anyone choose to use a material for repairing our roads, when it has none of this assurance? Products that aren’t approved haven’t undergone rigorous testing, and ultimately provide no independent evidence that they are ‘fit for purpose’.

The endless pothole debate continues, worsening after extreme winter, ravaging our road network and heightening risks to road users. The situation will only deteriorate if the use of un-proven ‘quick fix’ products continues.  Proven materials ‘stay where they are put’ and don’t crack or break out causing repeat maintenance visits.

Further advantages of using HAPAS approved materials include an extended service life, a reduction in insurance, personal injury claims and most importantly, a reduction in whole life costs. There’s an endless list of benefits from choosing a material bearing the HAPAS mark of quality.