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CROSS Safety Report

Fabrication issues with imported steelwork truss in Australia

Report ID: 390 Published: 1 July 2014 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter raises concerns after a steel truss had significant defects and deflected after erection requiring rectification.

Key Learning Outcomes

For the construction team and steel fabricators:

  • Quality control and competent supervision can help to ensure that steel trusses are fabricated in accordance with the design requirements

  • If steelwork is procured and fabricated overseas it is good practice to inspect the trusses prior to them being shipped

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The truss structure shown in Figures 1 and 2, says the reporter, illustrated significant defects and deflected after erection requiring rectification. The builder undertook repairs on site, including reinforcing the areas where cracking occurred in the junction between cross beams and main truss beams and welding reinforcing tubing alongside sections of the cross beams that had split.

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Figure 1: fabricated truss
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Figure 1: fabricated truss joint

This work was however deemed insufficient to stabilise the structure and as a result another tenderer was engaged to rebuild the truss. In this process the original steelwork was removed and taken to their yard. Several additional defects and instances of non-compliance to the relevant standards were found. Tensile testing showed the steel was 338 MPa yield strength versus a 450 MPa grade to AS/NZS 1163 Gr 450L0 called up in the engineer’s documentation.

There were also other non-compliances. These cover AS/NZS 1554 welding, and the material specification AS/NZS 1163 for the hollow sections.

Expert Panel Comments

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This is an abbreviated version of a much longer report and describes a structure which had numerous problems. A complex fabrication such as this needs competent input at all stages. This report is primarily about defective workmanship and use of steel having inadequate strength but the comment about deflection after erection is curious.

Deflection is governed by design and the steel’s E value (which is not related to strength) and so perhaps there are aspects that could be related to design. The report demonstrates that steel member capacity is just as much governed by fabrication quality as design and that all projects require adequate documentation and inspection to assure that what the designer thought was being provided was actually provided.

Deflection is governed by design and the steel’s E value (which is not related to strength) and so perhaps there are aspects that could be related to design.

This applies wherever the fabrication is carried out and where standards may be misconstrued. Physical examination of the processes in-situ may be advisable. CROSS has previously warned of inadequate documentation accompanying imported components: Anomalous documentation for proprietary products - February 2013.

CROSS-AUS NOTE: Since this Report was published in 2014, Australian Standard AS5131 – Structural Steel Fabrication & Erection was published in 2016 and CROSS-AUS would like to receive your feedback on any similar fabrication issues or whether practice has improved.

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