History & background.
Heretofore, construction products were regulated through a harmonised standardisation procedure, initially implemented by Council Directive 305/2011, on Construction Product, which was signed into Irish law in 2013 via the European Communities (Construction Product) Regulations, 2013. [SI 225 of 2013]
History will show that this standardisation was clearly ineffective in that we have had countless failures of products, used within the construction industry, either of structural elements or ancillary products. Some of these defective products include well known areas as pyrites in concrete blocks, however, other not so well known products were also known to have characteristics that were well short of the minimum required for a safe construction or indeed a standardisation of construction.
It cannot be by coincidence that we in Ireland have seen a drastic increase in the validation and certification of construction works, commencing with Project Supervisors for the Design Stage, Construction Stage, commercial and domestic clients.
Designers have a more onerous and administrative duty placed upon them through design certification, before work commences, therefore it would appear that the natural progression of products to be certified was a “no-brainer” This merely underpins one of the main principles of the EU Treaties in the Freedom of Movement of Goods, which they, like all other products, have a minimum essential safety & health requirement to be met.
Whilst the Construction Products Regulation issued by the EU Commission had direct Effect, which means no national laws were require to implement the European driven initiative, Irelands CPR of 2013 gives us a more general view as what duties are owed and by whom.
There are four principle obligations levied at particular groups, involved in general Construction Products, namely;
- General Principles and use of the CE mark.
All construction products shall have a Declaration of Performance supplied, in the English language, bear the CE mark and contain sufficient information as to demonstrate that they are fit for purpose.
Shall ensure that the products is accompanied by instructions and safety information in a language that can be easily understood (English)
Shall ensure that, when making a product available on the market, the product is accompanied by instructions and safety information, in a similar language.
Prior to a construction product being made available on the market, distributors shall ensure that the product is accompanied by instructions and safety information in a language that can be easily understood by USERS.
Non-compliance is clearly catered for within the Regulations with Fines up to 500,000 euro and or imprisonment, however, what is not so evident is what can only be described as the “knock-on” effect of the user, or more importantly the end receiver of the product when handed over and contained within a completed project such as a house, office, school or any other building or structure.
Perhaps a couple of examples may illustrate the potential catastrophic loss due to non compliance;
Example 1: Here we have a school authority contracting with a local construction company to build a rural school to facilitate around 50 pupils. All goes well and the building is handed over to the user, without the required or correctly documented CE Declarations of Performance. Technically speaking the school cannot be placed into service until such times as the correct and applicable certification is in place.
If some of the products used, or the steel work installed, be incapable of such certification, then it would appear that it may be subject to a dangerous condition with the obvious consequences.
Example 2: A couple decide to build a new house or indeed have a large extension built, by direct labour and it subsequently comes to light that one or more of the materials or the design and installation of the steelwork is incapable of certification. The resulting personal loss to the couple can be catastrophic.
The new Building Law requirements, here in Ireland and most probably identical, if not very similar in other Member States, certainly go a long way to prevent such defects in the construction practices, particularly in relation to the commencement notices and the comprehensive information and certification required by designers and builders to ensure that such poor or defective practices will not place the user in a most difficult position. It is probably obvious then, that the control of construction work originates at the design stage, with both the conceptual designer and the supervising engineer or competent person.
No construction products should be ordered or any work commence until all requirements of the Regulations have been addressed and all parties involved within the build to be aware of and take ownership in same. We have attached a typical check list we use when involved within any construction work, which is a valuable document for sign-off and Safety File purposes.
Whilst the foregoing legislative requirements of the CPR are an additional load onto designers and builders, apart from being an important safety element which should not have required legislation to enforce, they are generally, simple to organise and implement. What is and will become more difficult, is the area of fabricated steelwork, used within a construction, which can range from structural steel support columns to “decorative steel ballastrades”
As with general construction products, each product or family of products are subject to the requirements of a harmonised standards, e,g
- Circulation Fixtures: Road Equipment – EN 12676-1
– EN 1423
– EN 12352
- Road Construction Products – EN 14188-1
- Aggregates – EN 13139
The above are a non-exhaustive example and manufacturers or users should consult the NSAI for a full list of available standards, however, we draw the reader’s attention to the use of standards and recommend they read Section “XXXX” within this web site. There is little point in expending time and resources in the application of a standard or a series of standards, if they are either non-applicable or only partially applicable.
The leading harmonised standards pertaining to steel work are EN 1090 Part 1 and Part 2, however, before we discuss their requirements, it first more important to understand the types of fabricated steelwork, that the CPR characterises into Classes for the purposes of distinguishing between their complexity of design, construction and installation. There can be a significant difference in the requirements of various steel fabrications where the installation may require an important engineering element before it can be safely used, be that some form of tempering or protective coating.
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