HSE authorises the continued use of creosote in UK

17 January 2017

The use of creosote in the UK as an industrially-applied wood preservative has recently been authorised by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) under
The Biocidal Products Regulation.

The HSE’s decision to authorise creosote has recently been communicated to creosote manufacturers, confirming that its decision follows Sweden’s move to authorise the treatment for sleepers and poles.

The HSE’s approval applies until 2021 and covers Use Class (UC) 3 railway sleepers, UC 3 fence panels, UC 3 surface treatment (e.g. for cut end treatments), UC 4 wood poles for overhead electrical and telecommunication and UC 4 surface treatment (e.g. for cut end treatments).

Creosote manufacturers have been told that the HSE will now look at the case for authorisation of UC 4 agricultural stake/support - when long service life is required (safety critical) and UC 4 fence posts - (safety critical e.g. equestrian fencing, animal security fencing, highway fencing).

HSE has told the Wood Protection Association (WPA) that it expects to add creosote to the list of authorised preservatives on its website in the next few weeks. Once this is done the formal application by creosote manufacturers for the additional uses will take place.

“We believe there is a strong case to authorise creosote for fencing and agricultural stakes in the UK and anticipate a positive outcome,” said WPA Creosote Group chairman John Lawrenson.

HSE has confirmed that during the assessment of the additional uses application, UK manufacturers of creosoted fencing and tree stake products can continue to supply them under transitional arrangements set out in the authorisation. Different rules apply to imported creosote-treated products.

Creosote manufacturers anticipate the HSE will add treatment of wood for fencing and tree stakes to the authorisation in late spring/early summer.