ETA APPROVED ANCHORS – WHY SHOULD THEY BE SPECIFIED?
The construction industry is becoming increasingly litigious with new standards and regulations encouraging best practices. Anchors and fixings support mechanical and electrical installations suspended from ceilings of a building (safety-critical applications). It is therefore important that installed anchors are suitably approved.
There are UK and European standards and regulations. In the UK we have the Construction Product Regulations and industry standards – British Standard BS 8539:2012 Code of Practice created by the Construction Fixing Association and from Europe the ETA (European Technical Assessments).
The CPR (Construction Product Regulations) requires that all anchors offered for use in ‘safety-critical applications’ are suitably approved. These approvals are called ‘European Technical Assessments’ and are awarded after the anchor has undergone rigorous testing. The CPR states that an anchor is safety-critical if the failure of the anchor could lead to injury or significant material or economic damage to the building. ETA Approved Anchors will display the approval, carry the CE mark and have the manufacturer’s ‘Declaration of performance’, which is a guarantee of the loads they will take. A better understanding of the regulations, standards and ETA approvals is the best way to mitigate the risk of anchor/fixing failure.
Why has there been a change?
In the recent past, there have been a series of high-profile anchor failures resulting in serious injury or fatalities. For example, a series of concrete panels fell from the roof of a tunnel in Boston sadly killing a passenger driving beneath.
The Construction Fixing Association have also highlighted a few high-profile anchor failures –
Within the M&E industry it is believed that up to 80% of drop-in anchors are installed incorrectly
The most common reasons why anchors fail are:
- An anchor has not been selected correctly
- Breaking specification, the intended anchor did not arrive on-site
- The person responsible for installing an anchor has not been trained correctly and therefore the anchor has not been correctly installed
An anchor will likely fail in the following ways:
- The anchor has been installed too close to edge causing cracking in the substrate
- The finish of the anchor is not suitable for its environment which can cause failure
- The anchor has not been set correctly (with the right setting tools specific to that anchor)
How are regulations changing?
After a particular fatality in Ireland, the Irish Health and Safety association introduced a ‘code of practice for the design and installation of anchors’ this standard was updated by the CFA into the BS 8539:2012 Code of Practice.
BS8539:2012 Code of Practice for post-installed anchors used in concrete and masonry is aimed at all the stakeholders within the supply chain. BS8539:2012 provides guidance on the selection, supply, installation and testing of anchors to mitigate the risk of anchor failure.
One of the main highlight from BS 8539:2012 is the recommendation of selecting an ETA-approved anchor if available. The guidelines also state that all safety-critical fixings should have an ETA relevant to the application they are fixed into.
What is an ETA?
As described by CFA “The ETA (European Technical Assessment) is an independent confirmation of the performance of the product to the essential characteristics as defined by the EAD”. It is a harmonised independent set of tests and standards, that tests anchors in different substrates and various loads. To achieve an ETA, a product must undergo a complex testing programme against a defined testing criteria to determine its suitability for use in the specified application.
The ETA certifies the quality, suitability and performance of an anchor and is the basis for the product being awarded the CE mark. It defines the anchor, the intended use of the anchor, the materials it can be used in and how it is installed. For further guidance see the CFA tool kit.
An ETA-approved anchor will be labelled and will have an option number. ETA’s are divided into 12 options that confirm the parameters that they are approved for, for example an ETA-02/0020 is an anchor approval for use in non-cracked concrete. From a specifier perspective, it is important to know that every ETA number correlates to a report which will confirm its validity within an application ensuring the correct anchor is specified.
Table 1 Options for ETAs qualified according to ETAG 001.
How do you select an ETA anchor?
Source: CFA guidance notes
What tests are carried out on an ETA Approved Anchor?
- Over-torque the anchor
- Fixing it close to the edge
- Testing anchors on various different substrates
- Undersized or oversized holes
- A specific substrate test can be carried out, matching the on-site application
Why use an ETA-approved anchor?
If an ETA-approved anchor is fixed into a known substrate and it has been installed and supervised by competent individuals then no testing is required because we know the performance of that particular anchor. If a specifier has selected an ETA-approved anchor then it will not fail.
What are the benefits of an ETA-approved anchor?
- Comply with the recommendations of BS 8539 safeguarding the liabilities of the parties involved
- Performance values provided by the manufacturer can be consistently relied upon
- All parties to the construction process can be confident in the long-term security of the fixings
- No site testing is required because we know the performance of an anchor
Can I trust an anchor that does not have an ETA approval?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this, because you are not relying on an independent third party. There is quite frankly no way that you can recreate the level of testing that an ETA carries out. ETA’s should be adhered to by all reputable anchor manufacturers.
How can MIDFIX help?
We understand the rigmarole of selecting an anchor, ensuring the correct anchor is supplied on-site (at the right quantity) installers are trained to install them correctly and having to carry out on-site testing. This is why we have created a comprehensive anchor/fixing policy to ensure MIDFIX are the single point of trust for anchors and fixings. We offer the following services –
Our deep knowledge of anchors and fixings combined with our extensive understanding of BS 8539 guidance enables us to select the correct anchors.
Due to our continual investment and good relationship with our supply chain MIDFIX are able to supply fixings as specified.
Anchor Installation Training
We offer online-training through the MIDFIX Academy, aimed at all levels from contractors, supervisors to installers, passing the course provides you with a good understanding of how to install an anchor.
Our team of qualified CFA trained sales team can carry out on-site testing to ensure an anchor is fit for purpose.
Anchors/fixings are critically important
Anchors are a small component to which little consideration is frequently given but are absolutely vital to preventing the collapse of the structure or installation that depends on them. This is why when an ETA approved anchor is selected you can say with certainty that the anchor is fit for purpose.