Competency in anchor applications 01 June 2022

By John Muir, technical manager, Construction Fixings Association

On a construction project, the monetary value of the anchor package is very small in relation to the project value, but should an anchor failure occur, especially with safety critical anchors, large costs could be incurred.

These costs would be in terms of remedial and remediation works and loss of reputation, or worse, human injury or death. This being the case, it is essential that the incidence of anchor failures is reduced or eliminated. The major causes of anchor failures are incorrect selection and design of the anchor, incorrect installation, as well as the incorrect change of anchor specification.

Consequentially, the key functions that impact such failure incidences are specifiers – who design and select the appropriate anchor and provides a full specification; installers – who install the anchor to the correct procedures and manufacturers’ instructions; and contractors/supervisors – who manage and supervise the total application, including changes of specification. Increasing and maintaining the competence of all these roles and functions is an area that needs to be addressed within the anchor industry. In broader terms this has become a focus for the construction industry as a whole.

Construction industry perspective

Safety for the occupants and users of buildings is paramount, with the competence of all those who provide services in the construction or maintenance of a building key to achieving this. A new code of practice, BSI Flex 86701 has been produced to minimise building safety risks and improve protection to building users and occupiers, through supporting the development competency frameworks to achieve a level of competence across the industry. 

The code sets out core criteria for competence and aims to facilitate the development of competency frameworks based on specific sectors and across all roles and functions involved. Key to such a framework is the definition of competence. The code defines these elements as Skills, Knowledge, Experience and Behaviours (SKEB).

Each sector, such as a trade or discipline, should develop a framework to meet the specific needs of their sector and the range of roles and functions within that sector, who ultimately impacts safety. In essence, the code relates to all roles involved, such as designers, contractors, managers statutory and end users.

Anchor industry perspective

Prior to the development of BSI Flex 8670, the code of practice BS8539 ‘Code of practice for the selection and installation of post installed anchors in concrete and masonry’2 was developed to define best practice in the area of selection and installation of anchors.

The main purpose of the code was to provide a clear system approach to the whole process, where no formal approach previously existed. The lack of such a clear holistic process has previously led to anchor failure issues.

Within the code, the roles and responsibilities for all functions are defined and competence (for the installer) is also stated as having Skills, Knowledge and Experience, which is aligned to the BS Flex 8670 definition. BS8539 also covers the roles directly involved in the areas of anchor failures.

Specifier – the full process the specifier should complete is described in detail in terms of all the elements of design and selection, which need to be covered to ensure a safe choice of anchor. In addition, the design of anchors is now part of Eurocode 2 structural code (BS EN 1992-4)3. This change will hopefully increase the focus on the design of anchors as a key structural issue.

Installer – all aspects of anchor installation, including specific issues that may occur during the execution, are described in detail with reference to the different anchor types and key installation factors for each.

Contractor/supervisor – the role of the supervisor is vital to ensure good practice at the point of installation, and these key activities are described in the code. Also important to the contractor is changing specification, which is perfectly acceptable, if carried out correctly, to ensure a truly equivalent alternative anchor. The code provides a clear process for all of these functions.

In essence, the means and methods required for a safe anchor installation, and mitigation of potential issues arising, are already available to the industry. What needs to still be addressed, as identified in BS Flex 8670, is a framework to achieve competence in all roles and functions within the anchor sector.

Delivering competence

The goal of creating comprehensive competency frameworks by sector and function will come in due course, but will take time. Within the anchor sector, we need to take an honest look at the current situation. At present, the knowledge and skills elements of competency are being addressed principally through training. This is available through many mediums and varies greatly in quality, accuracy and delivery, and only covers limited roles, particularly installation. Any training delivered should be certified and required to be consistent, accurate in content and delivered by a competent trainer.

In addition to training, systems of certification and accreditation are important in covering all aspect of competence. Currently the only such accreditation is the NVQ in ‘Installation and testing of Anchors’4,  which is a more comprehensive qualification of competence, but again covers installation.

To look at the key roles in an anchor application, as described above, stakeholders need to consider a number of things. This includes providing training and development plans for engineers who carry out the design and selection of anchors in-line with EN 1992-4 and BS8539. Contractors should also provide systems to ensure employment of competent installers and provide training to their managers and site supervisors on all aspects of anchor applications in-line with BS8539. Installers must also be able to prove skills and knowledge through certified training or a suitable qualification such as an NVQ. These actions should be considered as minimum requirements as first steps to complete competence for all roles and functions in the anchor sector.

To achieve the objective of industry competence, the key stakeholders, manufacturers and trade bodies must commit to achieving this and work to developing a unified approach. 


  1. BSI Flex 8670: v3.0 2021-04 ‘Built environment – Core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks – Code of practice’
  2. BS 8539:2012+A1:2021 ‘Code of Practice for the selection and installation of post-installed anchors in concrete and masonry’
  3. BS EN 1992-4:2018 ‘Eurode 2- Design of concrete structures’
  4. Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Testing, Inspecting and thorough Examination Occupations (Construction) – Installing Construction Anchors and Site Testing of Construction fixings


Deputy Editor

Claire Aldridge Deputy Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 743 889


Having spent a decade in the fastener industry experiencing every facet – from steel mills, fastener manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, as well as machinery builders and plating + coating companies, Claire has developed an in-depth knowledge of all things fasteners.

Alongside visiting numerous companies, exhibitions and conferences around the world, Claire has also interviewed high profile figures – focusing on key topics impacting the sector and making sure readers stay up to date with the latest developments within the industry.