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I think a lot of engineers get around this issue by including the following exclusionary language in the project specs:

1. Codes and Standards:  Comply with provisions of the latest editions of the following, except as otherwise indicated:
A. AISC Manual of Steel Construction - ninth edition (ASD) including the AISC "Code of Standard Practice for Steel Buildings and Bridges." except the following:

a. Paragraph 4.2.1 of the above code is hereby modified by deletion of the following sentence: "This approval constitutes the owner's acceptance of all responsibility for the design adequacy of any connections designed by the fabricator as a part of this preparation of these shop drawings".

-----Original Message-----
From: Carter, Charlie [mailto:carter(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 12:47 PM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'

>My understanding of the current AISC Code of
>Standard Practice is that the fabricator is not
>intended to do any "design" of connections but can only
>"select" connections from AISC tables for framed beam
>connections based on given beam reactions and then
>"detail" connections based on the tabulated data.

There is a disparity of practices across the country and even within regions
of the country. In writing the Code of Standard Practice, we attempted to
describe some options and did not try to cover all options. I'll explain

Two options for connections are given in the Code. In one, the engineer
designs and details the connections in the design drawings and the
fabricator simply follows those details. In the other, the engineer designs
and details the connections that are not standardized in the AISC Manual and
allows the fabricator to complete and select other connections based upon
specified criteria and the tables in the AISC Manual. We do not restrict the
use of other approaches (per the statements in Code Section 1). If you want
something different, though, you have to outline it in detail in the
contract documents.

I see many other options used, some good and some bad. I've seen connection
design delegated and a specialty structural engineer fulfilling that role
(good). I've also seen steel detailers with no engineering knowledge forced
to "make up" the connections and thinking the SER is reviewing them in the
approvals process (bad).

State licensure laws normally do not allow the SER to absolve himself or
herself from responsibility in delegating connections. I think people know
which practices are good and bad. Most of the bad ones happen when the SER
tries to absolve themself from responsibility.

As a side note, it is important to know that the owner may become exposed
through the delegation if connection responsibility is delegated to a
fabricator or detailer. Fabricators are not eligible in all but the most
special of cases, to carry E&O insurance because they are covered with
product liability insurance instead. Product liability insurance does not
cover design and precludes the insured from doing design. If that happens,
the owner is left holding the bag. Many an owner has not even known the
liability they took on when connections were delegated as a result.


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