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Newsletter No 15 - July 2009

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Report Overview

Several of the reports in this issue indicate a lack of competency amongst those designing or installing the works, and/or a lack of adequate supervision. None of these examples affected large structures; the failures were of relatively minor works, but there were fatalities and serious injuries, and all had the potential for fatalities. It may be that there have been an increase in the numbers of site related problems that have occurred since the demise of the resident Clerk of Works/ Resident Engineer, together with just the poor standard of site control and management which seems to occur on many sites. It is important for all concerned in the industry, and the general public, that CROSS receives details of failures so that a comprehensive picture may be established in order to support any proposed action. Earlier in the summer there was a presentation on CROSS to a meeting of international regulators and building control bodies: CEBC/IRCC (Confederation of European Building Control/Inter-Jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee). There was agreement that defect reporting is an important mechanism for improving safety and saving money and several countries are interested in similar schemes. Meanwhile development is proceeding on the new CROSS web site which will be launched in the autumn. All subscribers will automatically be added to the system which will feature easier access to information, a data base of reports, and simple registration for new subscribers.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

124 Office ceiling collapse

This reported event was in a commercial office building at a major airport.

130 School ceiling collapse

Five years after installation the new ceiling suddenly collapsed, pulling the original ceiling and battens with it. The collapse affected virtually the full extent of one classroom.

134 Deadly retaining wall

A blockwork retaining wall, about 2.5 metres high. It was built around the mid 1990s and consisted of hollow 200 mm blockwork, which was partially filled with concrete, but had no reinforcement. This of course was not readily apparent. Backfill behind the wall was poorly placed and for this reason did not put sufficient load on the wall to cause it to collapse, though there was a certain amount of cracking. Shortly after a contractor started work adjacent to it the wall suddenly collapsed causing a fatality.

135 Critical wall failure

There has been a report about the top triangle of a brickwork gable in a relatively modern building collapsing in high winds and very seriously injuring two passers by.

140 Underpass ceiling collapse

This was an underpass for cars and pedestrians to access the central courtyard of a residential complex.

147 Post-tensioned pre-cast concrete tank failure

A utility company suffered a sudden and catastrophic failure of a concrete tank at a sewage treatment works. The tank was constructed from pre-cast concrete panels which were pre-stressed with circumferential un-bonded cables in grease filled sheaths.

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