Steel certification update
A good number of residential developments in Australia today are made with some form of steel within its structure, so it makes sense that you should be aware of where it comes from for peace of mind you are using a conforming product. The Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels (ACRS) says due to COVID-19 it has seen a big increase in calls this year from industry seeking assistance to verify the compliance of steel products for their projects.
‘There has been a major upswing in unverified supply of construction steel because of pandemic induced effects on deliveries,’ says Philip Sanders, Executive Director at ACRS. ‘We’ve had a number of established suppliers who are properly certified who have reduced their supply into the market and what’s happening is that free space is being filled by others.’
He adds that another equally concerning issue that the authority is dealing with is the ‘shandying of product’ – that is, a mixing of certified and uncertified product to a consumer who is expecting to get a certified product.
So, how can you be certain your ordered supplies conform to the minimum requirements of Australian Standards? Philip says proper documentation and product traceability are key.
‘If it’s an innocent mistake then the documentary evidence will flag it, but we’ve found ourselves spending a lot of time unpicking insufficient documentation,’ he says. ‘We are being given, in some cases, hundreds of documents to go through to try to get a builder, engineer or supplier out of a problem because they’re not sure what they got from where.’
ACRS was created to provide industry with confidence in the sourcing of materials and the supply of finished steel, independent of steel suppliers. Since 2001, ACRS has offered an independent, consumer-oriented two-stage steel certification scheme (stage one for steel manufacture and stage two for steel processing and mesh manufacture, or structural welded section fabrication) that confirms steel products being delivered to construction sites have been assessed for conformity right through to a finished product.
However, in light of the unverified supplies circulating industry, Philip says ACRS has released a new steel traceability scheme to give end users additional confidence in the supply of steel products. In addition, following collaboration with industry stakeholders, ACRS certificates will show additional details from January 2021 to enable increased identification of certified materials. ‘These conformity issues have shown the need to not only have product certification but to have full traceability of product,’ Philip says. ‘You want to ensure that steel is not only made by an ACRS-certified party but also then cut or welded by an ACRS-certified party and the traceability is covered appropriately by the ACRS product scheme and/or the traceability scheme. This is so you can be sure of what you’re getting.’
He adds the influx of non-conforming products ‘is happening across the entire range of steel products but the ACRS schemes are an effective preventative and ongoing system of measures to give surety to builders and procurers, designers and specifiers, and the public’. ‘People need to check their documentation. If it’s inadequate then challenge it and don’t accept it. If it is adequate, then when you have to do your due diligence, if you have both the ACRS stage one and stage two certificates then it’s really easy.’
Though when in doubt, get in touch. ‘As a not for profit for public benefit, HIA members can always call or email ACRS and we’re happy to answer any questions.’