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Newsletter No 8 - October 2007

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Report Overview

There have been several encouraging moves about the development of CROSS. At a recent meeting the current Presidents, and the immediately to follow Presidents, of the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers, were updated on the scheme and gave valuable input and encouragement. A major insurer of consulting engineers has recommended to its clients that use be made of the CROSS system to report concerns so that others may have the benefit of learning from these. The Core Cities Group representing the chief Building Control Officers from major cities in the UK are to support the scheme. In this issue there are concerns about structures where there may be hidden degradation; firstly in walkable ceilings, and secondly with ground anchors. By publicising potential problems awareness will be raised to the benefit of users and the public. It is very welcome to see three reports from contractors; two about temporary conditions and one about steelwork delivered to site. There is also a concern published here that risks from earthquakes, and indeed other extreme events, are not understood by the purchasers of holiday or retirement homes overseas. The success of a confidential reporting scheme cannot be measured in terms of the number of incidents that are prevented because this is not known, but it can be assessed by the number and quality of reports received and the outcomes from feedback. As a result of earlier reports to CROSS the manufacturers and distributors of a product are amending their advice to users. The supplier of another product is in discussion with SCOSS. Evidence from reports on temporary works collapses during alterations are being considered by the Health & Safety Executive in the formulation of new guidelines, and the concerns raised in Newsletter No 7 about Local Authority issues have been passed to the Department of Communities and Local Government. To encourage more reporting a form has been added to the end of the Newsletter.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

54 Walkable ceilings can deteriorate

A reporter has written about a complex and potentially far-reaching concern about unseen progressive deterioration in sandwich ceiling panels with mineral wool lamella cores.

68 Earthquake risks to overseas properties

CROSS has received a report about the many TV programmes in the UK (and probably elsewhere) dedicated to buying houses abroad. In these programmes the risks that are mentioned are usually to do with short term financial matters. However, the reporter has not heard any of the presenters talk about earthquake risks.

80 Steelwork delivered to site

The contractor on a domestic building project reported that there were deficiencies in steelwork supplied to site.

81 Post incident reporting for UK dams (news)

Although actual dam failure is very rare, incidents do occur at dams in the UK every year.

82 Wind on internal masonry walls during construction

There has been a generic report from a contractor about internal masonry walls during construction following his experiences of failures.

83 Site hoardings blow down

Investigations into timber hoarding failures by the reporter’s firm indicated that the majority of site hoardings are erected with no design whatsoever.

84 Collapse of brickwork cladding

The external leaf of a brickwork pier at first floor level fell down onto the playground of a school adjacent to the main entrance door. Fortunately there were no casualties.

87 Long term risks for ground anchors

Two reporters have been involved in several projects or potential projects where riverside sites have been considered for redevelopment. In each case, the river wall forms part of the strategic flood defences for the area and typically comprises of driven steel sheet piling held back by tensioned ground anchors up to 30m (or more) in length and raked at angles between 25° and 50° to the horizontal.

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