NSSCS For Engineers

NSSCS for Engineers

Australian Standard AS/NZS 5131 and the National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme (NSSCS) can be of significant benefit to engineers.

The benefits to engineers include:

  • provides the means to make a clear, quantitative risk-based categorisation of projects
  • provides a straightforward practical tool that in time becomes ‘accepted industry practice’
  • helps to manage risk for the project and your duty of care under the Workplace Health and Safety Act and the ‘Safe Design of Structures’ Code of Practice. 

Achieving the quality benchmark

Implementing AS/NZS 5131 and the NSSCS for your project is a straightforward four-step process:

  1.     Configure your project specification: the easiest way is to utilise the new National Structural Steelwork Specification. This ensures that the construction specification has suitable wording to reference AS/NZS 5131 and the necessary project-specific detail selections.
  2. Nominate the Construction Category: this is the risk-based categorisation from AS/NZS 5131 for the particular structure or component. Assessing the Construction Category is straightforward.
  3. Check submittals: for materials and fabrication to confirm conformity during the project construction. When utilising certified fabricators, much of this has already been configured and you should receive well-formed, complete and traceable documentation.
  4. Provide engineering certification: for the project, as is currently required by regulation.

The structure of AS/NZS 5131

In essence, AS/NZS 5131 defines two ‘layers’ on top of the base layer that represents international good practice:

The new National Structural Steelwork Specification (NSSS)

The ASI has created the new National Structural Steelwork Specification (NSSS) as a convenient implementation tool for industry to ensure that the requirements of AS/NZS 5131 – in particular, the project-specific selections – are consistently and correctly applied.

Assessing the Construction Category

The assessment of the Construction Category for the project or components of the project utilises a simple risk matrix with three input factors:

  • The structure importance level from the National Construction Code (NCC) or AS/NZS 1170.0
  • The Service Category, which represents the type of loading
  • The Fabrication Category, which represents the complexity of fabrication.

Having assessed these three input factors, the Construction Category is based on the risk matrix shown below:

The ASI has prepared Tech Note TN011 to assist engineers.

Checking project submittals

On a project-specific basis, AS/NZS 5131 and associated Standards for steel products require the supply chain to provide documentation to substantiate the veracity of products purchased (steel materials and consumables) and processes undertaken for fabrication and erection. The appropriate competent personnel (architect, engineer, builder, client) must ensure the project submittals required by the Construction Specification and our Australian Standards are obtained and properly reviewed and approved. 

Duty of care under WHS Regulation and the Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice provide an unequivocal indication of the shared responsibility for safe outcomes. 

The ASI has provided guidance here (PDF).

Utilising certified fabricators will help ensure the project-specific documentation you receive is well-formed, complete and traceable, making the process of satisfying duty of care more efficient and effective. 

Providing engineering certification

Engineering certification is required by Regulation to ensure projects meet the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) and the performance intent of the construction specification and our Standards. 

The engineering certification is usually requested by the building surveyor undertaking the project certification function against the requirements of the NCC.

The ASI has provided building surveyors with a convenient guidance and a checklist. The guidance and checklist provide a fit-for-purpose risk-based approach that all stakeholders in the supply chain should review to avoid problematic building certification outcomes.