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CE Marking – Implications for Designers, Specifiers and Construction Managers
08 Feb 2012
CE marking already appears on some construction products and CE Marking in general has been with us for many years. Most of the manufactured products that we buy have CE Marks on them. It is therefore important that all parts of the supply chain including designers, specifiers and construction Managers are aware of their responsibilities and the benefits of CE Marking.
In essence CE Marking is a declaration by the manufacturer that the product meets certain minimum public safety requirements. Although CE Marking is currently not a legal requirement in the UK it is in most other European countries and under the UK’s Construction Products Regulations a CE Marked product is assumed to comply with the law.
For fabricated structural steelwork CE Marking, applies both to the constituent products (steel sections, structural bolts, purlins, cladding and propriety products such as cellular beams) and to the fabricated steelwork itself. This imposes implications on the designer when specifying steel components, designing the structure and when choosing an appropriate steelwork contractor. It also has implications on construction managers.

Designers and Specifiers

For building steelwork in the UK there are generally two design roles that are fulfilled separately. In terms of the NSSS one role is allocated to the engineer who is responsible for the design of the structural members and will prepare design drawings. The engineer may be appointed by the purchasing client, or on design and build projects the engineer will be appointed by the steelwork contractor.
The design drawings and the associated project specification will form the design brief that includes all information necessary for the design of connections on completion of the fabrication drawings. The latter design work is generally undertaken by designers and detailers working for the steelwork contractor.
The completed fabrication drawings and associated project specification agreed between the engineer and the steelwork contractor comprise a portfolio of component specifications for the structural steelwork to be manufactured.

CE Marking is already in place for steel products such as rolled steel beams to EN 10025-1, and their inspection documents (test certificates0 are now endorsed with CE Marking. Similarly structural fasteners to BS EN 14399-1 and BS EN 15048-1 now have CE Marking on their packaging.
One of the benefits of CE Marking is that it includes technical information in the form of products declared characteristics (in the case of steel sections one of the declared properties is the grade – e.g. S275JR). Hence the CE Mark can be seen as a technical data sheet. The information given in the CE Mark together with the appropriate harmonized standard gives the information needed for the specifier to judge whether the product is suitable for a particular intended use in terms of the requirement in the building regulations related to materials and workmanship. Furthermore because CE Marking is a legal requirement in most European countries specifiers can have confidence in the declared characteristics.
Designers and specifiers are therefore strongly advised to keep abreast of the developing CE Marking Standards (called harmonised standards) for construction products and to specify CE Marked materials and products where appropriate.

Construction Managers
Construction managers have a duty of care to ensure that the correct CE Marking is associated with the correct product and that they are not using clearly non-compliant products that have been placed on the EU market. This means developing a purchasing system that requires CE Marking of products and checking the appropriate CE Marking is on the products which are delivered to site. CE Marking standards are continuously being developed for new and existing products, therefore construction managers need to keep abreast of these developments and update their procedures accordingly.
When choosing a steelwork contractor construction managers need to select one with the correct certified Execution Class.
Steel fabricated components are often bespoke products made to a particular purchasing client’s order and specification and designed for a particular project site. It is current practice for the purchasing client to select the steelwork contractor rather than choose an off-the-shelf product. On this basis CE Marking might seem to add little, however this would be wrong as CE Marking does add the following:

• The regulatory requirement from the Construction Products Directive ensures attention is given to key public safety concerns.

• The requirement for certification of the manufacturer’s Factory Production Control (FPC) provides assurance of comparable and appropriate controls across the market place.

• The declared characteristics can be relied upon as being accurate.

• A consistent technical language is used by authorities, specifiers and manufacturers to describe the characteristics of products.