Abstract This paper describes the usage of finite element (FE) analyses results to validate the standard BS7910 assessment procedure for the safe design of cracked square hollow section (SHS) T-, Y- and K-joints. In the study, the actual 3D surface cracks obtained from previous fatigue tests have been included in the FE models. An automatic mesh generation program is then developed and used to produce the failure assessment diagram (FAD) through the J-integral method. The ultimate strength of uncracked SHS joints with reduced load bearing areas have been referenced to derive the plastic collapse loads of cracked SHS joints for the development of FAD. These loads have been validated against the previous experimental results. In comparison with the existing standard BS7910 Level 2A/3A FAD curve and the proposed assessment procedure for circular hollow section joints, it is found that a plastic collapse load with a penalty factor of 1.05 will be sufficient for the safe assessment of cracked SHS T, Y, and K-joints under brace end axial loading.