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28 January 2016 | By John Grenville
It has been a criminal offence since July 2014 to supply structural metalwork unless it conforms to EN 1090, a European standard regulating fabrication and assembly of steel and aluminium structures.
Suppliers and purchasers of structural steel and aluminium must meet the requirements (or buy from a company that meets the requirements) of EN 1090.
So what comes within the scope of EN 1090? The British Standards Institution's (BSI) clarification document (bit.ly/1PcXNw2) offers a broad definition of the types of structural components covered. It includes structural steel and aluminium components, kits, steel components used in composite steel and concrete structures and structural cold-formed members and sheeting.
Structural components are defined as those "to be used as load-bearing parts of works designed to provide mechanical resistance and stability to the works and/or fire resistance, including aspects of durability and serviceability that can be used as delivered or can be incorporated into a construction work".
The document lists many components for use in buildings including staircases, balconies, canopies, fire escapes, ladders, walkways, ramps and guardrails as well as trusswork, tension systems and mezzanine floors. EN 1090 comes in three parts:
- EN 1090-1: Requirements for conformity assessment for structural components (CE-marking);
- EN 1090-2: Technical requirements for the execution of steel structures; and
- EN 1090-3: Technical requirements for the execution of aluminium structures.
Part 1 calls for CE marking, which shows compliance with the appropriate manufacturing standard for a product. The symbol will be familiar to most FMs because it has been a requirement for many years on products such as toys and electrical goods sold in the EU. CE marking is the maker's declaration that the product meets the requirements of the applicable EU directives.
EN 1090 Parts 2 and 3 explain how to ensure the competence of welders used on products. Before being able to weld products deemed to be of a structural nature, each welder has to undergo tests against an approved weld qualifying procedure. This must be verified by an independent verifier, the test welds being subjected to x-rays.
EN 1090 is mandatory under the Construction Products Regulations adopted in the UK in 2011 to enforce the European Construction Products Directive.
The Construction Products Regulations apply to a range of activities involving 'series' manufactured items (an activity that an organisation carries out more than once) including:
- Importers of structural metalwork kits or components;
- Stockholders and metal processors that modify stock (e.g. by drilling, painting, bending, electroplating etc); and
- Manufacturers of metal components or kits that have a structural use in civil engineering.
Bodies covered by the Construction Products Regulations must show they conform to EN 1090-1, which involves a number of steps that culminate in certification by a third party called a 'notified inspection body'.
EN 1090 requires several arrangements to be in place.
- Purchasing systems will need to be set up to buy only CE-marked sections, bolts and welding consumables.
- Designers must identify the execution class of the product, which is determined by the likely risk to the public if the component or structure fails. The designers will also need well-defined specs for components and kits.
- Prototypes must be produced and subjected to initial type testing.
Type testing defines key control checks. These are monitored under a quality control system called Factory Production Control that also covers: design and drawing controls; competence and training of staff; equipment maintenance and calibration; control of non-conforming products; and record keeping.
Where welding is part of the process, a welding quality management system is needed and this must conform to EN ISO 3834 'Quality Requirements for Fusion Welding of Metallic Materials'. The company should also employ, or have access to, a responsible welding co-ordinator (RWC) to control its welding quality management system.
ECEX is accredited to EN 1090 and has an in-house RWC who has been externally approved to act in this role. It can demonstrate to FMs and others involved in the specification of steel and aluminium products that all products have had welds tested in line with test regimes. It can also show that all welding equipment is independently serviced and that the highest-quality welding can be repeated consistently.
John Grenville is managing director of ECEX