Ensuring quality assurance and competency in structural timber construction

19/10/2022

Always striving to promote confidence in the use of structural timber, we’ve been busy enhancing the STA Assure Quality Assurance Scheme and the Timber Frame Competency Accreditation Scheme (TFCAS). Read about the latest updates and find out why and how your business can benefit.

What is STA Assure and when was it introduced?

STA Assure is a Quality Assurance Scheme that provides confidence in the use of structural timber and determines membership competency and compliance.  Two years in development and introduced around 5 years ago, the scheme offers solid reassurance that those structural timber suppliers that are members of Structural Timber Association (STA) will supply products and systems to an audited quality scheme, meeting or exceeding current legislation and regulatory requirements.

Following the successful introduction of the ‘16 steps to fire mitigation and site safety’, it was a natural step for the STA to focus on quality and compliance as part of its continuous improvement programme.

Importance of accreditation

Across the construction sector, the importance of quality assurance schemes cannot be overstated if continuous improvement is to be promoted. Our main goal at the STA is to promote the use of structural timber in construction as timber presents our best opportunity for meeting the UK’s net zero commitments by 2050. As such, the quality and standards of timber construction must be to the highest degree, as will be the scrutiny that it is put under. Therefore, accreditation is crucial to providing investors and insurers with evidence that companies are being held to high standards.

Who recognises STA Assure?

Our STA Assure scheme provides solid reassurances to the construction community that our members meet or exceed current legislation and regulatory requirements. Recognised by warranty providers, as well as other key stakeholders including insurers, STA Assure ensures that our members remain on top of the constantly evolving changes to quality and standards.

The STA reached a formal agreement with the NHBC in January 2019, whereby the NHBC will accept STA Assure Gold members as compliant with Chapter 6.2 of NHBC’s assessment processes for timber structures without the need for further review or completing a HB2445 form.

STA Assure is also formally recognised by six other industry-leading structural warranty and building control bodies including LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee, Protek Warranty, Build-Zone Warranty, Self-Build Zone Warranty and ABC+ Warranty.

Continuous STA Assure developments

As part of our continuous improvement programme and to ensure the STA Assure scheme remains current, robust and of high quality, we have recently implemented several updates. The updates now focus more on taking good management processes that already take place in-house and transferring to on-site to ensure best practice.

What is the Timber Frame Competency Accreditation Scheme (TFCAS)?

TFCAS is specifically designed for installers and is a programme to test the capabilities and knowledge of installers that will be using the various structural timber systems, promoting best practice. The scheme is currently based on three subject areas covering practical skills, knowledge skills and health and safety skills. For members to attain STA Assure accreditation, the installers that they contract with must have successfully completed TFCAS.

TFCAS robust testing

As part of our ongoing improvements to ensure members and clients alike have confidence in the audit scheme as well as the robustness of the installer competency scheme, we have added a further module to the programme. The additional subject matter covers the installation of cavity barriers, essential to the construction process and the safe use of structural timber. Furthermore, we have invested in third-party invigilation for the testing aspect of TFCAS to ensure the overall integrity of the programme, which further helps bolster the strength of the accreditation.

The STA see these changes as vital to ensure that the safety, competency and quality of construction standards come first, and are part of our support to members and the wider and ever-changing industry. Both STA Assure and the competency programme schemes are regularly reviewed and updated, as part of our continuous improvement programme that strives for excellence.

By providing transparency, credibility and accountability, the STA safeguards the interests of end users, enabling them to partner with a reputable firm that will harness the multitude of inherent benefits that structural timber offers. 

For more information about STA Assure and TFCAS, go to https://www.structuraltimber.co.uk/sta-assure/