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Newsletter No 17 - January 2010

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Report Overview

The new website is working well and reports are coming in through the new on-line system. More reports on all topics are welcome both to add to the database and to publish in Newsletters. Published concerns can generate others in similar veins and when there is a trend then steps can be taken to give practical advice which will reduce risk and improve safety. There have been a number of CROSS reports about fixing failures which has resulted in the Construction Fixings Association promoting a new BS Code of Practice for the use of anchors in safety critical applications. The drafting is due to commence shortly. In addition, the fixings industry, in conjunction with SCOSS, is drafting a guide to ceiling fixings. This is a success story: thanks to those who contributed towards this by submitting reports The recent winter weather in parts of the UK has resulted in roof failures due to the dead weight of snow. Some of these have been highlighted in the press but more evidence is needed to learn how buildings are performing in unusual, but perhaps not exceptional conditions. In this issue there is a good selection of reports on concerns from which lessons can be learned: the failure of blind bolts on an offshore platform resulted in the collapse of an important piece of equipment, hydrogen generated from a foamed concrete mix exploded, there is another case of a temporary works problem but this was spotted in time by an alert engineer, partial demolition of some brickwork arches led to a potentially dangerous situation, the importance of taking prompt action on stability is described, and there are two more ceiling failures – this time associated with dynamic loading. If you have similar examples please send in a report.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

145 Child killed by falling mantlepiece (news)

An inquest jury ruled that a four year old child died from severe chest injuries after a 110lb stone lintel fell on him at his home. The verdict stated: "The mantelpiece became detached from the headstone as a result of a failure to apply a sufficient amount of approximately mixed mortar or additional fixings. The lack of national industry standards and regulation for the fitting of fire surrounds, including training, installation, quality inspection, secondary review and audit paper trails, were also a contributory factor."

146 Temporary works propping

A self-employed structural engineer was working for a consulting firm on a design and build contract refurbishing a large office building which was anything from 50-80 years old. The structure consisted of hollow pot floors with concrete encased steel columns. During previous works a plant room had been added to the roof and no remedial work undertaken, so after a load assessment it was decided that a column needed strengthening over one storey. The work involved the installation of a stressed prop to provide temporary support to the structure.

148 Suspended granite ceiling collapse

This report is in relation to the selection of fixings for a suspended ceiling of granite which collapsed in the entrance area of a new office building due to failures of the fixings.

149 Rendered ceiling failure

A report (similar to report 148) relates to a failure of a false ceiling below a pre-cast concrete floor. The ceiling was constructed as part of a new office building, and was situated externally above steps forming part of the public highway.

153 Dangerous arches

Several arches of an undercroft style structure in a conservation area were demolished, apparently without consent, leaving one standing which was used as a garage below and giving vehicular access to a multi-occupancy house above. The arches carried a road and, according to the reporter, the situation was very dangerous.

170 Blind bolt failure on offshore platform

A reporter describes how there was a failure on an offshore platform of a 20 tonne winch base under load testing. No injuries, but significant business impact. Failure occurred in tension of a holding down arrangement of blind bolts which were of the locking pin/cam variety.

171 Concerns on stability require prompt action

A reporter was concerned about overall building stability during an extension and conversion project. All old internal walls and floors had either been removed or were being removed and external walls were in a precarious condition.

172 Exploding foamed concrete

In September 2009 an Interim Advice Note was issued by the Highways Agency. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified several incidents involving foamed concrete, including a serious accident at a sewage pumping station being decommissioned, when contractors were injured as a result of a gas explosion.

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