Some metal fabrication companies are acting illegally, placing their customers at risk of prosecution, according to John Grenville, Managing Director of leading multi-specialist engineering contractor ECEX.
He warned: “It has been a criminal offence since July 2014 to supply structural metalwork unless it conforms to EN 1090, a three-part European standard that regulates the fabrication and assembly of steel and aluminium structures.”
However, he added, many smaller fabrication companies had failed to become EN 1090 accredited: “Some are probably ignorant of the legislation; others believe it’s disproportionately costly and time-consuming for a small business to meet the accreditation requirements.”
This, said Grenville, was bad news for buyers of structural steel and aluminium products because they were the ones responsible for ensuring the structures they purchased were procured only from an accredited company.
The structural components covered by EN 1090 include 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 which can be used directly as delivered or can be incorporated into a construction work”.
They embrace many everyday components used in buildings including staircases, balconies, canopies, fire escapes, ladders, walkways, ramps and guardrails, as well as trusswork, tension systems and mezzanine floors.
ECEX is accredited to the EN 1090 standard and has an in-house responsible welding co-ordinator who has been externally approved to act in this role (rather than as a sub-contracted source, the route some companies have chosen to follow).
Grenville explained: “We can therefore demonstrate that all fabricated products have had welds tested in line with documented test regimes. We can also demonstrate that all welding equipment is independently serviced and tested to ensure that the highest quality of welding can be repeated consistently.
“It is important that suppliers and purchasers of structural steel and aluminium meet the requirements (or buy from a company that meets the requirements) of EN 1090. Failure to do so could have far-reaching negative consequences.”