Structural anchoring & safety – why are ETAs important?


Anchors are often used in safety-critical applications.ETA approved anchors But what is a safety-critical application? And how important is it to use ETA approved anchors? The European Technical Approval guidelines define safety-critical applications as being:

“Applications in which the failure of an anchor could result in collapse or partial collapse of a structure, cause risk to human life, or lead to a significant economic loss”

Examples of safety critical applications


So why are ETA approvals important? anchor failure

Over the past decade or so there have been a number of major installation failures resulting in serious injury and death. The most common reasons these occur are:

To help ensure this doesn’t happen to you, it is useful to have an understanding of the relevant guidelines such as BS8539:2012 and what ETA approvals are. You can also read our Top tips for installing concrete screws here.

Given the importance of the reliability and stability of anchors in protecting the safety, health and welfare of people and property, each anchor used in a structural capacity should always have a ETA approved anchorsEuropean Technical Assessment (ETA). 

European Technical Assessments provide a worldwide recognised framework for testing anchors, assessing and interpreting test results, publishing them in a standardised format. In turn, ETA approved products provide designer and specifiers with certainty that their performance data is accurate and reliable.  Anchor solutions can then be designed with peace of mind.


What can happen if fixings fail?

Fixing failures are thankfully rare, but if they do happen they can result in injury or even death as well as significant financial losses. On the CFA website you can read a few examples including a concrete tunnel collapse in the USA and a ceiling collapse in a UK school.

Failure can occur for a number of reasons including concrete cone failure, anchor pull out, bolt breakage and splitting.

anchor failure


Why should you use ETA approved anchors?eta concrete screw

Guarantee that the anchor will not fail, provided the anchor has been selected and installed as outlined in the ETA. This means that the liabilities of the specifiers and installers are safeguarded and the installation will comply with BS8539.

Anchor selection is made easier with ETAs. Design according to the relevant design method, along with software to guide the selection process, means that specifiers can be confident that the most suitable anchor has been chosen. This ensures economic design of anchors with an appropriate safety margin.

Detailed installation instructions are provided in the ETA giving the contractor peace of mind that installation can be carried out correctly. Correct installation is paramount to avoid anchor failure in the future.

Performance values of approved anchors can be relied upon. ETA approved anchors are also CE marked which means that the anchor delivered to the job site will have exactly the same performance values as those tested in the approval process.


Can anchors without an ETA be trusted?

There are many anchors on the market without ETA approvals. These products may have some performance data published by their manufacturer, supplier or distributor but can we trust this?

The reality is that determining anchor performance is a complicated matter.  ETA testing subjects anchoring products to a huge range of complex testing programs to ensure the safety and reliability of their performance in a multitude of situations. eta concrete screw

Can you be sure that the testing on non-approved anchors has been carried out to the same stringent criteria? Can the product performance data be trusted?

The truth is that we cannot be sure, and these products will not offer guarantees of performance in the same way an ETA approved anchor will.

“To use a non-approved anchor is a risk, and you must decide if it is one worth taking. For safety and peace of mind we would always recommend using ETA approved anchors. ETAs were introduced for a reason so why risk using anything else?” Rob Lee, Anchor Expert, Walraven


Walraven’s anchor offering

We pride ourselves on only offering products and services that we really believe in. Our heavy duty anchor range is ETA approved for your peace of mind. Alongside our approved product range we offer a technical support service, anchor selection software and onsite support to help you every step of the way.

All of our ETA documents can be downloaded from our document library.

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