Quick Search

Newsletter No 39 - July 2015

Download PDF Version Download PDF document
Download Word Version Download Word document

Report Overview

In December 2013 part of the fibrous plaster ceiling of the Apollo Theatre in London fell and 88 people were injured. A 12-month investigation by Westminster City Council concluded that the collapse happened because of the age of the structure and there had been “no breach of the current laws”. A new report has been received regarding a similar type of structure in a public building in another part of the country where the fabric suspension ties were found to be completely decayed. Failure was only prevented by the shape of the plasterwork. Probably a near miss. Publicity has been given to this problem in theatres but not to the possible risk to other buildings with old and ornate heavy ceilings. The new report is published here and Structural-Safety will be giving consideration as to how the matter can become more widely known. Other subjects include temporary works design for basements, another case of fixings failures, questions about plastic rebar spacers, rotten rafters, Building Regulations and Approved Inspectors, policing of CE markings, and construction which differs from design drawings. These are all topics which contribute to the improvement of structural safety and the reporters are to be thanked for enabling them to be shared with others. Our panel of experts is, as ever, to be thanked for providing the comments. There are many other situations where external events have precipitated structural failure around the world in recent months such as the earthquake in Nepal and extreme heat in India and Pakistan. Engineers can help to ameliorate the effects of such catastrophes if given the resources and the more we learn the more effective we can become. The success of the CROSS programme depends on receiving reports, and individuals and firms are encouraged to participate by sending concerns in confidence to Structural-Safety.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

518 Fibrous plaster ceiling features

This recent report of a serious concern about an old fibrous plaster ceiling has similarities to the Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse in London in December 2013.It is thought that complete collapse was averted by the arched shape of the trough section and that if the ceiling was flat, prior collapse would have occurred.

423 Temporary works design for basements

A reporter had an inquiry from a Contractor who, after appointment, discovered that there was a serious lack of temporary works design information (surveys/loads/wall thicknesses, sequencing, in principle method statement regarding the party walls).

430 Failure of anchor bolts holding suspended scaffold

During the removal of a suspended scaffold it was found that a number of the screw bolt anchors had failed.

431 Plastic spacers in slabs

A reporter has spotted plastic 'rails' about 1.5 m long being used to support the bottom rebar mat of a slab. They are 'U' shaped with the open side being placed against the soffit.

503 Rotting of rafters likely due to spray foam insulation

Rafters had rotted in areas to 40-50% of their original depth due to spray foam insulation having been installed some years previously, says a reporter.

507 Independence of Approved Inspectors

Owners, who provided this report, contracted a house extension company who claimed to handle all aspects of the house extension. Their contractual obligations included obtaining building control approval for plan/design and bringing the project to completion. A series of defects then started surfacing after the completion of the project.

510 Policing of CE marking on steelwork

A reporter has a question regarding structural steel safety, particularly on steel gantry systems supporting lifting equipment. He knows from EN1090-1 and 2, that structural steel work should be CE marked and wants to know who "polices" these new regulations.

513 Fabrication different from design drawings

The reporter noticed that a propping design had been fabricated and installed but a number of connection details did not match the design drawings.

Previous page

Email Updates

How to Report

Online submission:
Submit by post: