A clampdown on rogue timber traders has been instigated by BM TRADA which is stepping up its grader policing.

Companies have been warned that BM TRADA auditors will be paying random, unannounced visits to confirm that grading is carried out according to the rules.

The organisation is conscious that the supply of wet timber stamped as dry remains the scourge of the trade, with the malpractice of a few impacting on the reputation of the conforming majority.

Last year BM TRADA, which operates the UK’s largest strength grading schemes, carried out a major surveillance exercise in Scotland in a bid to identify and stamp out mis-selling and the corrupt use of grading stamps.

That initiative is to be extended across the UK this year – and it could involve the organisation in considerable cost.

Product certification manager Roger Galpin said: ‘Our registered graders are spread throughout the UK and for practical reasons we have previously announced our intention to visit and carry out the annual inspections required under BS 4978 on a particular date.

‘In theory at least, we are concerned that this left the way open for unscrupulous operators to “massage” their operations in advance of our visit. Now we will be undertaking a number of unannounced visits to companies when conducting grader assessments.’

If the grader is not available, BM TRADA will return at no additional cost to the company.

Mr Galpin said: ‘This is an expensive exercise for us because of the sheer geographical spread of our registered graders. However, it is another important step that we can take to stamp out malpractices.’