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CROSS Safety Report

Inadequate product testing for shear studs

Report ID: 790 Published: 1 April 2019 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter raises concerns about a manufacturer providing testing information for a variant product based on a university student Master’s dissertation.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • If a variant product such as metal anchors in concrete is proposed by a contactor it should be covered by a Euronorm, European Technical Approval Guidelines (ETAGs) or similar

  • If a contractor proposes an alternative product request the technical specification and documentation to ensure the structural capacity and quality assurance requirements are met

  • Care should be taken in relying upon documentation and the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) has warned of this before in the SCOSS Alert Anomalous documentation for proprietary products - February 2013

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Proposed structural strengthening for a project involved welding shear studs to existing steelwork to form a composite connection to new concrete. To avoid welding, an alternative bolted shear stud was investigated. A manufacturer of a commonly used product had a variant product which had been used elsewhere on similar structures.

The variant is not covered by a Euronorm, European Technical Approval Guidelines (ETAGs) or similar. The manufacturer provided information for their principal product and additional testing information for the variant product. On investigation, the testing information was found to be based on a university student Master’s dissertation.

Whilst the reporter's organisation did not review the dissertation in detail, it was felt that reliance on such a source would not be equivalent to the general quality assurance principles of Euronorms or similar. Even as a source of technical information, the reporter would suggest that a dissertation is of interest only. In the absence of peer review and opportunity for comment, or repetition as with a published technical paper, it may not demonstrably be a reliable source of information.

Expert Panel Comments

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In very many cases, designers place absolute reliance on the origin of design information from suppliers. It is expected that such information has come from a reliable source and been rigorously checked in accordance with proper standards to justify industrial application. A Master’s dissertation however is prepared with the purpose of the student’s learning. The two are not at all the same and, as a default, cannot be used for the same purpose.

If relying on a Master’s dissertation as verification testing, the person doing so has the duty to check that the student’s work in all ways meets the requirements for verification. Quite apart from the diligence of the student and the scope of tests, matters such as the quality regime (e.g. to United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for the purpose intended) and professional indemnity (PI) insurance are also important.

Care must also be taken in relying upon documentation and the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) has warned of this before. In the SCOSS Alert Anomalous documentation for proprietary products - February 2013, SCOSS said that they had become aware of a number of instances where certification accompanying proprietary products has stated compliance with standards or specified requirements, but the products have been found not to be in accordance with the specification. On several occasions, this has led to premature structural failure of the component at loads well below the intended design capacity.

On several occasions, this has led to premature structural failure of the component at loads well below the intended design capacity

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