4 min read

How does BS 8539 affect M&E contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers?

Stevan Grkinic
Stevan Grkinic

Head of Sales

As the industry moves towards a compliant, traceable, and evidenced future, carrying out compliant anchor selection and installation is becoming ever more important. This can only be achieved if every stakeholder involved in the supply chain of anchors/fixings is aware of their role and responsibility.

A failure to understand an individual's role and responsibilities as outlined by BS 8539 can increase the risk of a site failure due to poor anchor selection or installation.

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How does BS 8539 impact M&E contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers?

The purpose of BS 8539 is to guide each stakeholder within the selection, supply, installation, and testing of anchors. The code of practice should be applied to all post-installed anchors for concrete and masonry.

In our latest sound-out episode Stevan discusses the responsibilities of each stakeholder as outlined in BS 8539.

In most cases the contractor is often the installer and as such has the responsibility to ensure that the anchor selected reaches the site and anchor installation is carried out by a competent individual. Furthermore, If an individual breaks spec of an anchor they must carry out the management procedure.

As outlined in BS 8539 they should be competent to supervise anchor installation. If an ETA-approved anchor has been fixed into a known substrate supervised by a competent individual, then no testing is required because we know the performance of that anchor.

The anchor manufacturer must provide the information needed by the specifier or designer to select an anchor. Information includes any ETA-approval information, installation information and all the subsequent technical specifications required for that anchor to be selected correctly.

Suppliers also have an important role to play to ensure an anchor is supplied on-site. Firstly, they should supply the anchor as specified. Secondly, they need to make the installer aware of any additional equipment required for installation. Finally, they should offer appropriate anchor installation training for that type of anchor.

Below you will find each stakeholder and their role as outlined by BS 8539.

Role What BS 8539 states

Design the complete building which means they have access to all of the information incl. load rating and the substrate. In the M&E industry, it is very rare that the designer is the specifier.

The designer should outline the anchor/fixing, drawing on the manufacturer’s description and part code so that the supplier can select the correct anchor.

When selecting an anchor, the following should be considered (which we will go into in more detail later):

·    The substrate that the anchor is being fixed into; cracked/uncracked concrete, block, brick, timber etc. (Clause 5)

·      Can the anchor sustain the load-bearing of the application?

·    Environment of the anchor. Will it be outside, inside, humid or not and what finish is suitable? From carbon steel to zinc-plated to stainless steel, to high corrosion-resistant materials.

·    Type of installation – flush-fixed or through fixing.

·    Type of anchor - torque-controlled, deformation-controlled, undercut or resin.

·       Approvals - does the anchor meet the ETA approval?


According to BS 8539, any individual within the supply chain of an anchor can be referred to as a ‘specifier’. They select the anchor/fixing.

·   The make, type, ETA number, size and manufacturer reference/order number

·   Instructions for installation

·    Guidance for the installer on what to do if reinforcement is hit when drilling


Employs the installers onsite. It is their responsibility to ensure installers are trained.

The contractor should provide the correct anchor as specified. If changing this specification, they should carry out the due diligence to ensure that clause 10 of the change of management procedure is followed. If the contractor has seen that the anchor specified is not the correct one, they should inform the original specifier. The contractor should install the anchor to the manufacturer’s specifications (or training).


Those that manufacture the anchor/fixing.

The manufacturer should provide:

·   All information for the specifier to select the correct anchor​;

·   Technical catalogues and software;

·   Installation instructions for the installer;

·   Recommended resistance (or appropriate safety factor to allow calculation);

·   Setting details including min. thickness of base material, edge and spacing criteria;

·     Installation instructions and equipment needed.


Those that supply the anchor on site

The supplier should provide:

·   Provide the anchor as specified, unless a specific change management procedure has
been followed, such as the load specification

·   Take the opportunity to ensure all associated setting equipment is offered to the contractor such as drill bits, hole cleaning equipment, setting tools, torque wrench etc., so that the installer can install anchors correctly;​

·   Provide installation training or facilitate this being provided by the manufacturer;​

·   Provide guidance in anchor selection;

·   Ensure the change management procedure is adhered to if asked for alternatives

Individuals that supervise a fixing/anchor install into a substrate onsite

The supervisor is responsible for signing off an anchor installation prior to the anchor being loaded:

·   They should be adequately trained​;

·   They are responsible for insuring the specified anchor is the actual anchor being installed;​

·   They carry out the final check after installation;​

·   They make sure the installation is done correctly;

Individuals that install a fixing/anchor into a substrate onsite
BS 8539:2012 states that anchors should be installed and supervised by competent individuals. BS 8539 defines competent as:

“Suitably trained and qualified by knowledge and practical experience, and provided with the necessary instructions, to enable the required task(s) to be carried out correctly”.

When the anchor is originally supplied to site, the installer should look at the setting tools (e.g. torque wrench, torque specification and set the torque up correctly). The drill diameter, drill depth, recommended torque value and load bearing should also be taken into consideration.

Site testers
Usually a manufacturer or distributor that tests the anchor after installation, as requested by the contractor.

BS 8539:2012 states that testing is not required if an ETA anchor has been used, installed and supervised by competent individuals. ​This means:

·   Anybody carrying out a site test should be qualified by the CFA.

·   Proof testing or allowable load testing CFA guidelines should be followed.

·   Correct reporting procedures as per CFA guidelines should be followed.

The entire supply chain has a responsibility.

It has nearly been over a decade since BS 8539:2012 Code of practice was introduced. Since that time, anchors/fixings are still being left to the last minute. Even today, many of those in the supply chain are not aware of their responsibilities. 


There is no single answer to this question. Anchors/fixings are still seen as a commodity item, after all, thousands are specified on-site and many do not fail. This viewpoint is shared by the majority of the industry.

However, without following best practices, there is no way of knowing for certain that the anchors/fixings specified and supplied on-site will not lead to a site failure.

If a site failure does occur, then the 'specifier' is liable, as we know from above, any stakeholder from the supply chain can be the 'specifier'. 

By simply following the guidance available it will help to mitigate the risk of bracket suspension failure caused by the incorrect selection and installation of anchors/fixings.

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Topics: BS 8539, Compliance