DESIGNERS MUST get tough with contractors to prevent product specifications being changed on site, or risk being held liable for a major accident, suppliers have warned.
The Construction Fixings Association (CFA) has called for action after a survey of 175 designers revealed that 43% knew anchor specifications were changed on site without their involvement and without proper consideration of the implications.
The CFA carried out its research after a construction worker was killed in Ireland when a balcony under construction collapsed because the specification had been changed on site.
Of the engineers questioned, 78% knew that they would be liable for any implications even if anchor specifications were changed without their authorisation.
'This is something that everybody knows happens, but nobody talks about, ' said CFA chairman Paul Langford.
'Now we have the research to prove it.'
Langford claimed contractors often used alternative products on site that met load capacity demands but failed to take account of other factors such as spacings, edge distances, type of load and type of concrete.
'Anchor manufacturers provide software to engineers, but not many contractors at a site level understand it, ' said Langford. 'Contractors need to respect designs more and designers need to insist that their designs are respected.'
To combat the problem the CFA is calling for designers to specify anchors carrying European Technical Approvals (ETAs) from the Comite Europeen D'Outillage.
Although relatively unknown in the UK, ETAs are awarded only after rigorous testing and contain a full description of the product, specific installation instructions and detailed performance characteristics to assist with selection. They are recognised across Europe.
'An anchor awarded with an ETA complies with Building Regulations and can be relied upon to function safely and reliably as long as it is fixed without any error on the part of the installer, ' said Langford.
'And the ETA states that the installer should be fully trained and supervised. Specifying products with ETAs doesn't cost anymore, it just makes sure we do the right things, ' he said.