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How To Report

Who can report

Anyone involved in the building and civil engineering industries including Structural Engineers and Civil Engineers who are, or who work for, owners, consulting firms, contractors, statutory authorities, government, local authorities and further education establishments. Reports will also be welcome from others who have an interest in structural safety.

Confidentiality

Any report submitted to CROSS shall be treated as confidential. Unless otherwise disclosed during the collection, personally identifiable information that may be collected in connection with visitors to this site is retained by Structural-Safety. We never sell, transfer or otherwise disclose this personally identifiable information outside this company except where this disclosure is required by law.

Anonymous reports

Anonymous reports will not be accepted because the contents cannot be verified.

Urgent matters

The purpose of CROSS is to collect data to identify trends and developments which might contribute to an increasing risk to structural safety. Accordingly, CROSS is not able to give advice and does not have any power to intervene in relation to specific projects or matters of concern. In circumstances where urgent advice is needed in relation to specific matters of structural safety, or you consider there to be a potential risk to health and safety and/or the environment, your first step should be to raise this with the organisation(s) concerned as far as practicable (and, if applicable, your line manager).  If this does not resolve the issue, or if the response received is inadequate, then the appropriate regulator should be informed. In the UK this may be the Health and Safety Executive or, in the case of a building, the Local Authority. In such cases, the reporter should consider whether it is necessary to report the matter on a non-confidential basis. 

CROSS may be able to offer advice on what action might be taken to raise awareness of the reported concern. 

Reports can be made offline or online

Offline reporting

For offline reporting contact structures@structural-safety.org and ask for the Structural-Safety postal address. This will be given along with a reference number and on arrival the envelope will be opened and the contents seen only by the director.

Online reporting

The online form can be accessed on the submit report page. Fill out the form and give a description of an event or of your concern, and tick the requested boxes. The form asks for the reporter's name and contact details but these will not be used except to contact you for clarification. The form will be seen only by the Director who will remove features that identify a structure, firm, or product so that the report is anonymised. Only then will it be processed further.

Photographs and pdfs can also be submitted.

CROSS will maintain the confidentiality of the reporter and will not disclose personal details including email addresses.

Example Reports

A report should give;

  • a description of the event or concern
  • if there was a failure then the cause of the failure if known
  • lessons that could be learnt.

The following are examples showing how an important message can be conveyed in a few lines.

479 Dangerous alterations

An existing building was being converted to another use, says a reporter. The structure is being replaced, but the facade retained. The construction method was to create a new frame within the existing, with columns punching through the existing slab. The facade was then to be tied into the new frame and the old structure removed. The local authority building control officer went to site and witnessed on an upper floor that the columns had been removed out of sequence, before the new frame had been constructed. The existing beam over had been left simply supported, with no continuity over the columns. Upon removal of the columns, the beam tripled in length and with load reversal at the column points, the compression flange had no positive connection. It seemed that the floor over was spanning through membrane action, as there was luckily very good tying between members. The building control officer asked for the beams to be propped immediately and no damage occurred. The reporter says that this highlights poor site control, an inadequate construction plan and a lack of understanding of the structure by the site operatives. Furthermore, he says, the structural engineer did not make any visits to the site.

461 Metal cladding panels blowing in the wind

A local authority was called to investigate a dangerous structure where metal cladding panels on the 10th floor of a student accommodation block were flapping in high winds. The building had been constructed two years previously and had been subject to a building control check on both calculations and site work. The cladding panels were of aluminium (3-4mm thick) which were folded at the edges and fixed into a supporting frame using 24mm long self-tapping screws fixed on site. There were a large number of fixings per panel, and subsequent investigation found the calculations to be adequate for standard design wind loading. The cause of failure however was identified as flexing of the panels under the fluctuating wind load which led to prying forces in the fixings for which they had not been designed. This demonstrates the need for fixings and systems to be checked for dynamic and quasi-dynamic forces, and that thin panel systems would be better stiffened in some way.

In this case the date and location have been removed.

137 School fascia collapse

A section of pressed steel gutter and plywood fascia board at a school collapsed during or after a heavy rainstorm. The reporter believes that it had been in service for 15 to 20 years. He understands that staff and pupils had walked beneath the failed gutter just minutes before its collapse, narrowly avoiding a serious accident.

The gutter was about 200 mm wide x 250 mm deep and it is believed that the down pipe may have become blocked, allowing the gutter to fill during heavy rain. The method of fixing the gutter and plywood fascia board was simply by nailing into the end grain of the rafters, which are at 600 mm centers. Inspection by the reporter revealed that there was no other support. BS 5268 clause 6.4.4.3 states that ‘no withdrawal load should be carried by a nail driven into the end grain of timber’.

He therefore regards this fixing detail as inadequate and potentially dangerous and is concerned that the detail might have been used on other institutional buildings.

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