Timber post failures – a continuing problem for UK fencing contractors

Timber post failures – a continuing problem for UK fencing contractors

“Enough is enough” – Fencing contractors have borne the cost of timber post failures for too long. The Industry needs to act now to put it right!

Since the sale of traditional CCA (copper/chrome/arsenic) treatment had to cease in 2006, followed by the withdrawal of chromium preservatives in 2008, there have been regular reports of the failure of timber posts in ground contact. The AFI (Association of Fencing Industries) have been monitoring the situation since our formation in 2017 and have been discussing the matter with the treatment industry via their own association the Wood Protection Association (WPA).

The WPA’s view is that currently available preservatives do work if the treatment level is specified correctly and products are used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. Wood intended for ground contact must be specified and treated as Use Class 4 to BS8417. It is the WPA view that failures are due to a combination of some users buying solely on cost without reference to quality or accurate specification and/or poor treatment/timber drying practice in some parts of the treatment industry.

Whilst we at the AFI have no reason to doubt their judgement we feel the contractors in the UK have borne the cost of this failure of the treatment industry to regulate itself for far too long. The time has come to find a long-term solution to the problem and ensure that treatment of the timber products we use is ‘fit for purpose’.

If the view expressed by the WPA is correct then the AFI feel that it should be possible to introduce a warranty scheme which will allow contractors to use the products covered by the scheme secure in the knowledge that the ‘total cost of replacement’ i.e. removal, disposal and replacement, including labour and materials, is covered by the supply chain.

The AFI has proposed a scheme to the WPA to do this. However, the WPA board is reluctant to move forward with a scheme of this sort without further reassurance that AFI members and the contractor sector in general are committed to change, regardless of any necessary (modest) cost premium. As there will be a considerable cost to the setting up of a scheme of this sort which will result in additional costs to the ground contact products of around 2/3% it is felt that this would mean that contractors will not take up the scheme and WPA members would simply lose business to cheaper alternatives (which offer no such guarantee).

In order to establish the contractor’s view of the proposed scheme we have set up a questionnaire find on the AFI website here. Your answers will enable us to go back to the WPA with an accurate answer to the question of support from contractors for the proposal.

If you believe that something needs to be done, then please act now and fill in our questionnaire and give us a complete picture of the current situation. We are here to represent your views tell us what they are!

If you would like a hard copy to fill in contact us at info@afiorg.uk or 020 8253 4516.

We are asking all UK contractors to make their feelings known and welcome responses from all, whether members of the AFI or not.

New AFI Chairman, Cameron Glanvill, said: “We cannot allow this to continue, if nothing can be done and our customers demand a guarantee then our only option is to use alternative treatments or materials such as steel, concrete or plastic composite posts.”