Plywood sample after 24 hour cold water soak test
Safety, quality and performance problems seen across Ireland
Dublin, Friday, January 15, 2010.
NSAI (National Standards Authority Ireland), has issued a warning to the construction industry on the non compliance of certain types of imported Chinese plywood. The standards body identified a number of issues about the quality and performance of certain plywood products imported from China from a number of construction sites around the country. Through NSAI’s site certification process sufficient evidence was gathered to raise concerns about “non-compliant, non-European, structural and non structural plywood being used on construction sites in Ireland.” Fergal O’Byrne, NSAI Certification said, “Irish importers are purchasing the plywood in good faith from suppliers claiming to have all the supporting documentation. Certain mills in China have either misrepresented CE marks on substandard products or supplied standard and non standard products in the same or subsequent shipments. This has given us serious concerns about the reliability and quality of all such material. ‘CE’ marking is based on the principle that a manufacturer should be able to prove that its product is fit for its intended end use.” Driven by highly competitive pricing and the construction boom, imports of Chinese plywood to Ireland and Europe dramatically increased over the last number of years. According to a recent research report on the Chinese plywood Industry, the market scale of Chinese plywood industry in 2008 was about €21.848 billion. “NSAI have traced the imported plywood to a number of Chinese manufacturers who are purporting to have all necessary support certification but are in fact feigning compliance with European standards. Also contractors have found that they are being required to remove faulty product from sites. In addition to the costs involved replacing faulty product and the associated labour costs, there is also a potential health & safety risk to both site workers and the public as the plywood is susceptible to disintegration when exposed to wet conditions.” Added O’Byrne. In Ireland, construction products such as structural plywood must comply with the National Building Regulations. Structural Plywood which complies with I.S. EN 13986 for wood based panels for use in construction is deemed to satisfy this requirement. Importers to Europe will typically prove compliance with this standard by demonstrating conformity with the Construction Products Directive and using the CE mark for the structural plywood, including having their factory or audited by a European Notified Certification Body. Adds O’Byrne, “A simple 24 hour cold water soak test or a six hour boil test will give initial indication of a sound product. If sound, it will remain intact, whereas a non-conformed product will disintegrate. However, these are only rudimentary tests and by no means replaces professional testing and analysis. If in doubt, full scale testing is advisable.”