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Newsletter No 10 - April 2008

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Report Overview

The reports in this issue highlight a lack of competence or a lack of supervision of aspects of construction which may not be primary structures, but are serious in terms of safety. A brickwork gable wall collapsed without warning and narrowly missed a pedestrian; a substantial blockwork wall collapsed due to wind loads in the temporary condition after the workforce had left for the night; four heavy ceilings collapsed, again, by good fortune, when there were no people underneath. These all serve as reminders that the application of sound engineering and good practice, or simply the use of good building craft by competent people, are essential when dealing with fixings and apparently minor components. If any of these cases had resulted in deaths or serious injuries the effects on the individuals involved and their employers would have been devastating. It is simple after the event to see what has gone wrong and why the failures occurred. It is difficult to make sufficiently strong recommendations so as too ensure that the people likely to be involved with these topics in the future are made aware of the risks and the importance of their role. CROSS has shown the relevance of confidential reporting in highlighting trends before there are tragedies, and this is enabling SCOSS to take action to give more publicity to safety critical concerns. As ever CROSS seeks, and needs, more reports from individuals and from organisations. Reports from those who have the support of their employers will be very welcome when sending a description of a concern to be shared with others. There is a report form at the end of this Newsletter.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

92 Collapse of a gable wall

Part of a gable wall to a fairly recently constructed block of flats collapsed onto a parked car which suffered significant damage.

97 Culvert roof slab failure

A culvert, which carries a river under a busy main road, has an internal span of 2.4m and headroom of 1.0m. The reinforced concrete roof slab was 300mm deep and had, from the time of its construction, four 120mm metal service ducts cast into it. Some years later two additional ducts were cut into a channel on the top of the slab.

99 Collapse of a wall during construction

An internal corridor wall collapsed in a school under construction. The wall, when checked, was not to be unstable in all stages of its construction even when built up to the head, until the external envelope was substantially complete.

100 Ceiling collapse in an educational building

A suspended ceiling in a large teaching hall collapsed days before the official opening of a new educational building.

101 Ceiling collapse in cinema No. 1

A reporter writes about the failure of a mass barrier acoustic ceiling at a cinema complex in a major UK city some few years ago.

102 Ceiling collapse in cinema No. 2

A ceiling collapsed recently (2008 report) at a multi-plex cinema in a major city says a reporter. This too had a mass barrier acoustic ceiling of two layers of nominally 12.5mm plasterboard fixed to a two-way light gauge steel channel system suspended from an insitu concrete roof slab composite with a steel deck.

103 Ceiling collapse in cinema No. 3

A third cinema had several separate auditoria. Each had a ceiling consisting of a metal grillage supporting plaster board and on top of that was network of cables and ventilation ducts. The net loading was quite heavy at about 70 kg/m2.

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