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Newsletter 59 - July 2020

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Report Overview

There are common themes to the reports in this edition and they are: • Problems with design co-ordination • Problems over quality of site control • Problems over inspections on site • Problems over changes on site Around half of CROSS reports are about problems on site and a root cause is that designers are not represented to see that what is constructed complies with the design. In recent years some owners have become reluctant to engage structural engineers, or independent inspectors, to review works on site having been persuaded by contractors that they can scrutinise themselves the works they are building, or simply in a bid to save money. When something goes wrong due to poor workmanship or inadequate supervision, the subsequent costs are likely to be far higher than the costs of proper inspection. Indeed, the unwillingness of clients to pay for this can be a contributory cause to the resulting problems. Do clients, or their advisors, recognise the requirements of CDM and their responsibilities thereunder? Reports in this issue include cases of reinforcement not being properly placed, of communication problems on major repairs, of insufficient fire protection not being identified in a timely manner, and of main structural steel members being butchered to allow for the passage of drainage pipes. Other issues highlighted are related to the design phase, which account for about a quarter of CROSS reports, and again the unwillingness of clients to spend money is a factor; this time in relation to professional fees. On design and build jobs, the client for the detailed stages is the contractor and the continual push for the lowest price affects the quality of design and the ability for adequate communication to take place amongst the team. Contractors want early involvement in projects to ensure buildability and efficiency, but the quality of design must not be compromised. Ideally this this should result in problems being identified before the works start. One of the potentially most serious issues on site is when changes are made without authorisation either deliberately or in a thoughtless manner. If the change is one that affects structural safety or fire safety aspects and potentially compromises lives, then the cost of proper communication, responsible co-ordination, and independent scrutiny becomes trivial.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

894 Checking reinforcement before concrete pours

A reporter shares their concerns about rebar positioning on site prior to concrete being poured.

926 Emergency motorway lane closure during concrete repairs

Confusion during concrete repair works led to an unplanned emergency lane closure of a bridge carrying a motorway.

921 Fire protection of mixed hot/cold rolled steel structure

A high rise building had to be remediated after it was found that there was insufficient encasement of structural elements.

958 Roof collapse at primary school

Blocked outlets likely lead to the build up of water on a school roof, causing collapse.

899 Glazing design and horizontal barrier loading

A reporter shares problems they have encountered with barrier loading requirements on a curtain walling glazing system.

905 Consequences of low professional fees

An engineer says that despite public concerns about workmanship issues on site, low professional fees mean that engineers are not able to adequately check the work on site.

902 Unauthorised structural alterations to accommodate drainpipes

A reporter became aware of cases where main structural steel sections were ‘butchered’ to accommodate drainpipes.

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