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CROSS Safety Report

Check for errata when using manuals

Report ID: 211 Published: 1 April 2011 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter from an international firm of consulting engineers noticed an alert on a global internal knowledge networks about an errata in an AISC manual.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • There can be reliance on the accuracy of published design information, but it would be impossible to guarantee no risk of error.  A safeguard against this can be to always ensure approximate checks parallel to the ‘proper’ design to reduce the risk of gross error.

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A reporter from an international firm of consulting engineers noticed an alert on a global internal knowledge networks about an errata in an AISC manual. Users of the 13th edition AISC Steel Construction Manual should check errata posted online (see link below) when using formulas and properties from this manual. AISC Technical Publications Revision and Errata Lists link at: www.aisc.org/content.aspx?id=2896
One of their staff discovered this while checking the design of a built up railing on a pedestrian bridge. The section modulus for an L4x4 angle changed by more than 75% from the value shown in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd printing of the manual. It highlights reliance placed on published material and the need for vigilance in ensuring that we retain a ‘feel’ for correct design.

The reporter thinks that in the UK the BSI are prompt to issue errata if critical design data is found to be incorrect, however there might be less attention paid to information from bespoke specialist companies eg fixings. The alert also highlights the increasing use of this media (internal networks) to share and transmit knowledge of issues/problems internationally.

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Errata can occur across the whole spectrum of technical publications and in most cases, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for users to check whether errata have been reported or published.  Now that many national standards are produced at European level in CEN, the time between an error being reported and corrections being published takes much longer, more than a year in some cases.

When standards were produced locally, corrigenda or amendments could be quickly agreed, published and notified by BSI. Now as the first generation Eurocodes are being adopted, designers should certainly pay attention to the possibility that corrigenda have been published or that errors have been notified. A web search (e.g. for ‘errors in Eurocode 2’) can be productive. Eurocodes Expert and other materials sector web sites also aim to notify errors in published standards and users of such standards should be aware of these information sources.

This is a difficult problem which raises issues similar to those in reports about dubious material certification (Report 230). We are all reliant on the accuracy of published design information, but it would be impossible to guarantee no risk of error.  A safeguard is to always ensure approximate checks parallel to the ‘proper’ design to reduce the risk of gross error.

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