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Viewpoint | EU kite marks and Brexit

Steve Hesketh

Brexit came at a bad time for me after three years of hard work, our manufacturing team had finally gained formal accreditation to BS EN1090 allowing us to CE mark our structural steelwork to Execution Class 2.

In addition, our design teams were able to offer our customers Eurocode compliant designs. It appeared that we might have wasted our time and certainly questions were being asked at board level.

The decision to CE mark had been a no-brainer even though technically, temporary works products fall outside the requirements of the Construction Products Regulations.

Our customers must have thought it odd that a small steel lintel needed it whereas one of our 250t capacity, 45m long hydraulic props holding up the Thames did not.

Our talented team of welders and fabricators based in the North West had always maintained an enviable reputation for manufacturing the highest quality modular shoring products. However, with exports booming it was essential that we proved our credentials to a worldwide market.

In terms of temporary works design, there is always a vigorous debate about the applicability of the more theoretical Eurocodes approach as compared to the more practical, experience-based permissible stress approach adopted by the UK construction industry. However, again being able to offer both approaches was an easy decision given the widespread adoption of Eurocodes within the industry.

So, what now? I am a member of the British Standards Committee for Trench Support Systems and the sensible view from BSI is that we will maintain membership of Cen and Cenelec and continue to contribute to the development of European and international standards.

In terms of temporary works however, I believe we can now look forward to developing our existing British Standard BS 5975. In this way we can hold on to our practical approach, based on world leading technical and safety knowledge and experience. Go team GB!

Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds – the ability to comply with the highest technical and quality standards worldwide coupled with a reputation for safety and practicality.

As far as MGF is concerned, I do not think that we have wasted our efforts. Our worldwide reputation for quality can only have been enhanced and the process has led to several improvements in productivity and quality.

● Steve Hesketh is MGF engineering director

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