CE regulations and approvals are becoming more and more strict across the industry and anchor fixings. They are often used in safety-critical applications and are certainly no exception.
Guidelines state that safety-critical applications are those in which a failure could result in a collapse or partial collapse of a structure, cause risk to human life, or lead to significant economic loss. Not something anyone wishes to be involved in! However, an understanding of the relevant guidelines and what ETA approvals are can go an awful long way in ensuring this doesn’t happen to you.
What is Driving the Need for Change?
Over the past decade or so there have been some major failures resulting in serious injury and death. To give an example, a section of ducting collapsed on a school in Kent injuring 12 people. Following much investigation, it was found that an unsuitable anchor had been chosen. There are various reasons why a situation such as this could occur, however, some of the most common are:
- An incorrect anchor was selected in the first place.
- A specification change further down the line leading to an unsuitable anchor being selected.
- The incorrect anchor was ordered by an installer due to the original packaging/brief being lost, or the person in charge not being available.
- Incorrect installation.
If an anchor is incorrectly selected or installed, it will likely fail in one of the following ways:
How are Regulations Changing?
In light of these failures, the Construction Fixings Association concluded that the regulations around anchor fixings needed addressing. This led to the introduction of BS 8539:2012. BS 8539:2012 is now the standard Code of Practice for anchors used in concrete & masonry. It is aimed at everyone involved in the process, from contractors right through to testers. The overriding message from BS 8539:2012 is that ETA-approved anchors should be used wherever possible.
What is ETA?
In simple terms, an ETA (European Technical Assessment) is a worldwide recognised framework which contains detailed reports and performance information about the product.
Published in a standardised format, an ETA document will set out what applications the anchor is suitable for, its application limits, performance characteristics and how it should be installed. To gain an ETA, a product must have been rigorously tested to strict EU-derived standards known as EADs (European Assessment Documents). For further information on EADs (Formerly ETAGs) and ETA testing, see the CFA Guidance Note.
A product with an ETA will be clearly labelled and will feature an option number. ETA’s are split into 12 options which dictate what parameters they are suitable for, such as for use in cracked or non-cracked concrete. For those specifying anchors, ensuring the chosen anchors’ ETA number correlates with their application is crucial in the safe selection of an anchor. For more information on ETA options, see the table below.
Why should you use ETA Approved Anchors?
There are many good reasons why ETA-approved anchors should be used. The main reason is that providing the product has been selected and installed as outlined by the ETA. This will guarantee that the anchor will not fail. This not only provides you as a contractor with certainty that the product is fit for purpose but also safeguards all who are involved with selecting and installing the anchor.
All the information needed to install an ETA anchor is supplied with the product. From general installation procedures such as torque settings and curing times for resins, to potential issues, such as what to do if the anchor hits rebar.
Any competent installer should be easily able to follow the provided instructions. Again offering the contractor peace of mind knowing that everything is in place for the installation to be carried out correctly.
It is also worth noting that providing the anchor has been chosen and installed according to its ETA document. This way the anchor will not need a product test as it has already passed rigorous testing procedures.
ETA-approved anchors are also all CE-marked. This ensures that each anchor is of the same high standard as those which were tested. Not only does this give further assurance to the product, but it also provides a degree of certainty that the anchor will not be sensitive to reasonable variations such as moisture or temperature fluctuations.
There are plenty of other non-ETA anchors on the market, some even being supplied with their own performance data, but how can we be sure that this data is reliable and accurate?
How can you as a contractor be sure the testing is relevant to your project? Determining anchor performance is an extremely difficult process with many variables that aren’t easily replicated during testing.
The ETA testing procedures are as stringent as it gets with every aspect of anchor performance being evaluated, simply to ensure the results are as reliable, accurate and standardised as possible.
Will non-ETA anchors have had such thorough testing with the same guarantees as those with an ETA? No one can say for sure, which poses the question, why would you risk it?
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