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Eurocodes publication marks the start of a new era

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A historic landmark was reached in May with the publication of the first five parts of the steel design Eurocode.

The publication of BS EN 1993 or Eurocode 3 marks the culmination of a project to harmonise structural design across Europe which began more than 30 years ago. It also signals the beginning of the end for the current UK steel design code, BS5950.

Though the text is well known to the technical drafting committees and the engineers who have been involved in commenting on the drafts of the standard, formal publication is the first opportunity for the vast majority of structural engineers and steelwork designers to get to grips with the new documents.

They will not, however, be able to design to the codes until the publication of the National Annexes, which sets down certain parameters decided at a national level, including some factors of safety. A maximum of two years is allowed for the development of the National Annexes. Award of a contract from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for development of  the annexes (NSC, June) is thought to be imminent.

After publication of the National Annexes, a three-year period in which the new and old codes co-exist begins. The national standards will then be withdrawn.

The parts of the code published in the first tranche were:

BS EN 1993-1-1:2005
Design of steel structures —
the main part of Eurocode  3.

BS EN 1993-1-2: 2005.
General rules. Structural fire design

BS EN 1993-1-8: 2005.
Design of joints.

BS EN 1993-1-9: 2005.

BS EN 1993-1-2: 2005.
Material toughness and through-thickness properties.

Another 15 parts are expected to go to a formal vote by EU member states, the last stage in the approval process, later this year/early next year. This would allow them to be published in 2006.

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