Understand Steel Standards in Australia, The Importance & Compliance

Structural steel is a critical component in construction, playing a vital role in ensuring the strength and stability of a building. That is why all steel products used in construction must comply with the relevant Australian standards.

man welding steel with sparks flying

What are Australian Standards?

Standards are voluntary documents that outline requirements, practices, and policies to ensure the security, consistency, and dependability of goods, services, and systems for various industries. Technical committees constantly evaluate standards at Standards Australia to ensure they are up to date with emerging technologies. 

In addition to National Standards developed by Standards Australia and other accredited bodies, there are International and Regional Standards. 

International Standards are developed by international organisations like ISO, IEC, and ITU for countries to adopt national use. Regional Standards, on the other hand, are prepared by a specific region, such as the European Union’s EN standards.

World Standards Cooperation

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) formed the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) in 2001 to strengthen and advance their respective voluntary consensus-based international standards systems. The WSC also works to resolve unresolved issues about the three organisations' technical collaboration and encourages establishing and applying global consensus-based standards.

Understanding Structural Steel Standards

Australian Steel Fabrication Standards provide the guidelines for the manufacture and fabrication of structural steel components, ensuring that they are of the highest quality and manufactured to the required safety and performance standards. These standards are regularly updated and revised to keep up with new technologies and developments in the industry.

The Australian Building Code Board (ABCB) develops the National Construction Code (NCC) regarding the building and construction sector with the help of the Building Ministers Forum (BMF) (ABCB).

The National Construction Code (NCC) aims to attain and maintain basic structural safety, health, fire safety, amenity, and sustainability. To accomplish these objectives, building design experts must adhere to the technical standards of the NCC.

Material and Process Standards

  • AS/NZS 1163 Cold-formed structural steel hollow sections
  • AS/NZS 1252 High-strength steel fastener assemblies for structural engineering - Bolts, nuts and washers
  • AS/NZS 1397 Continuous hot-dip metallic coated steel sheet and strip – Coatings of zinc and zinc alloyed with aluminium and magnesium
  • AS/NZS 1554 Structural steel welding
  • AS/NZS 3678 Structural steel – Hot-rolled plates, floorplates and slabs
  • AS/NZS 3679.1 Structural steel – Hot rolled bars and sections
  • AS/NZS 3679.2 Structural steel – Welded I-sections

Design Standards

  • AS 4100 Steel structures
  • AS/NZS 4600 Cold-formed steel structures
  • AS/NZS 5100.6 Bridge design - Steel and composite

Why Do We Need Structural Steel Standards?

Australian Standards promote consistency in various industries to provide value to relevant stakeholders and customers. They give companies and customers more peace of mind by ensuring the calibre of goods and services are consistent across a given industry. Additionally, they enhance our quality of life, increase health and safety, safeguard our natural resources, and boost the economy.

What Issues Do These Standards Solve?

According to the Australian Steel Insitute, Australian Standards and Codes of Practice are voluntary consensus documents representing community expectations regarding quality, safety and risk in the built environment.

Australian Standards are NOT regulations. However, Australian Standards are mandatory when: 

  • The NCC references a standard
    • For example, AS 4100 Steel Structures and AS/NZS 4600 Cold-formed Steel Structures are primary reference documents in the NCC, which call upon AS/NZS 5131 Structural steelwork – Fabrication and erection, making it a secondary referenced standard under the NCC.
  • A standard is required contractually for construction

Why is Compliance so Important?

Stakeholders must take great care when attempting to use materials or products that do not have documented conformity to the performance requirements of the applicable Australian Standards due to the tightly coupled nature of the performance framework established by the design and various material Standards. Our Standards offer highly detailed compliance advice as a result.

Issues with Non-Compliance

Compliance requires being per specified rules, specifications, policies, standards or laws. Compliance for steel structures involves three stages:

  1. Compliance with the National Construction Code
  2. Compliance with the design provisions of AS 4100 Steel structures
  3. Compliance with the fabrication and erection provisions of AS/NZS 5131

For example, a certificate from a structural engineer stating that a particular design conforms with AS 4100 is also compliant with the National Construction Code. Capacity factors of AS 4100 have been calculated based on the quality of the steel, its certified mechanical properties, and the distribution of those properties over time. The mechanical property distribution of steels that do not meet the Standards stated in AS 4100 might be different from that of steels that do, which may require additional components to meet compliance standards.

All of the steel material standards listed in AS 4100's Section 2 Clause 2.2.1 have particular provisions to ensure verification that the delivered material conforms with the requirements of the chosen Standard.

Steelwork Compliance Australia

The responsibility of Steelwork Compliance Australia (SCA) is to audit and certify steel fabricators per the requirements of the National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme (NSSCS). Clients can then choose fabricators independently determined to be capable of achieving compliance with the applicable Australian Standards. As a certifying organisation for the Australian/New Zealand Standard for fabrication and erection of structural steelwork AS/NZS 5131, the SCA functions per ISO 17065. 

National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme

The NSSCS provides a four-pillar approach to compliance, incorporating Fabrication Standard AS/NZS 5131, a Conformity Assessment statement, Construction Categories and the auditing authority, Steelwork Compliance Australia.

The Importance of Using Australian-Made Steel

Material Standards are the guaranteed values for chemical composition, mechanical properties, tolerances on dimensions, method of manufacture, and quality control provisions for every material used in the steel structure. These material Standards are used to calibrate Designed Standards that refer to structural steel products. Because these characteristics are defined by material Standards using well-known Australian steels, testing results, and work practises, using Australian Made Steel will ensure your construction project is compliant with Australian Steel Standards. 

The following standards provide builders with guidance on requirements for material compliance.

  • From AS 4100:
        • Clause 2.2.2 Acceptance of steel
        • Clause 2.2.3 Unidentified steel
  • From AS/NZS 4600:
        • Clause Acceptance of steels
        • Clause Unidentified steel
  • From AS/NZS 5100.6
  • Steelwork Specification

    Structural steelwork specification gives stakeholders in the supply chain a clear indication of what products and materials builders should use to guarantee that the finished structure satisfies the designers' intent and the client's needs. These specifications also provide the expected quality of the execution (fabrication and erection). 

    The steelwork specification is the most crucial document to give all stakeholders a shared knowledge of the performance purpose of the finished structure and how to protect that intent, together with the design documents effectively. The steelwork specification will always refer to the relevant Australian Standards and may contain additional criteria peculiar to a particular project.

    Australian Standard AS/NZS 5131 offers a technically sound foundation for the manufacture and construction of structural steelwork. Engineers and specifiers can meet the requirements of AS/NZS 5131 using the ASI National Structural Steelwork Specification (NSSS) and related Standard Drawing Notes, which have been created and made publicly accessible by the ASI.

    Before the creation of AS/NZS 5131, Australia and New Zealand were the only developed nations without a specific stand-alone Standard for the manufacture and erection of structural steelwork. This strict and transparent definition of acceptable quality is more important than ever in today's increasingly global procurement environment, where structural steelwork for Australian projects is provided by both local and foreign-based fabricators.

    Fabricating Structural Steel

    At Steel Builders, we are passionate about providing reliable, high-quality structural steel products to the domestic housing market. Our team of experienced steel fabricators adheres strictly to the latest Australian Steel Fabrication Standards, using only Australian-made steel to ensure the highest levels of quality and reliability.

    Our use of cutting-edge technologies such as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems and 3D modelling ensures that our products arrive on site ready to install and manufactured with complete precision and accuracy. Combined with our commitment to strict compliance with Australian standards, makes Steel Builders the leading structural steel fabricator in Sydney, Australia.

    High-Quality and Compliant Structural Steel From Steel Builders

    Our steel fabricators are highly experienced in steel fabrication, and our raw material is sourced locally to meet Australian Standards. Steel Builders has a skilled crew of site welders for onsite welding and rectification where required. With next-day dispatch across the Sydney metropolitan area, you’ll have your builder’s hardware at your doorstep. And if you live or work nearby, select FREE pick-up from our St Mary’s or Belmore warehouse for structural steel supplies within 24 hours.