The British Standard, BS 7910 Guide to Methods for Assessing the Acceptability of Flaws in Metallic Structures is currently under revision [1]. Major changes have been undertaken, especially in the fracture assessment routes, and this paper specifically addresses the assessment of proximity to plastic collapse, usually expressed as the parameter Lr via either a reference stress or limit load approach.

In the new edition of BS 7910, the reference stress approach has been retained for the assessment of many geometries, mainly for reasons of continuity. However, new limit load solutions (originating in the R6 procedure) are given for use in the assessments of strength mismatched structures or clad plates.

In general, a reference stress solution and a limit load solution for the same geometry should deliver the same value of Lr. However, recent comparative studies have shown differences in the assessment of plastic collapse depending on whether the reference stress solutions in BS 7910:2013 or the limit load solutions in R6 are used for the calculation of Lr.

In this paper, the extent of the difference in the assessment results with respect to the choice of solutions and boundary conditions are discussed. The results of the assessments in accordance with BS 7910 and R6 are compared with the results of numerical assessments obtained via Finite Element Analysis (FEA).

The collapse loads observed in various wide plate tests conducted in the last 20 years are also compared with the collapse loads predicted by BS 910:2013, R6 and FEA.

Finally, observations regarding the accuracy of different Codes and FEA are discussed.

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