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Non-compliant imported structural timber used in South Africa

stack of wooden terrace planks at the lumber yard

South Africa’s construction industry is experiencing a shortage of structural timber, which has made imports of the material necessary.

“It is not uncommon for non-compliant structural timber to be imported and supplied to the local market – including to formal roof truss manufacturers – without there being any knowledge of the integrity of the finger joints, adhesive used, or the grading of the timber,” said Abe Stears, MD of the South African Technical Auditing Services (SATAS). “Worse so, when a batch of non-compliant imported timber is rejected by a buyer, it is commonplace for that timber to simply be sold on to another unsuspecting buyer. In this way, non-compliant imported timber for structural applications may still find its way into the South African market.”

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) has stressed that all structural timber destined for – and employed by – the South African market must be compliant with local legislation.

National Building Regulations require that all structural timber is compliant with SANS 1783, which covers sawn softwood timber, and both national and international manufacturers of structural timber supplied to the South African market are expected to be certified by a South African-based ISO 17065-accredited certification body. This also applies to South Africa’s neighbouring countries, like Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Currently, only SATAS and the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) are accredited to certify manufacturers of products in compliance with SANS 1783.

“All industry professionals who make use of structural timber are urged not only to be aware of national legislation around the use of structural timber, but to not make use of any imported – or locally produced, for that matter – timber that does not comply with South African standards and requirements,” said Stears.

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