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Newsletter No 32 - October 2013

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Report Overview

Several reports in this Newsletter express concern about aspects of structural steelwork. Taken one after the other these may give the impression that there are many issues with steel design and fabrication, but this is not the general case because the vast majority of such structures are properly designed and constructed. CROSS reports are gathered together where there are similarities so that trends can be detected. Many of the problems highlight the importance of carefully selecting both consultants and steelwork contractors. Capabilities to look for in fabricators include the type of building that can be fabricated, whether or not firms have adequate quality management systems in place, their sustainability credentials and a guide to contract values they can undertake. Checks should also include their CE Marking capability and to reinforce this BCSA has introduced a new policy so that from 1st July 2014 only steelwork contractors with a certified CE marking system in place can be members. However there must also be greater awareness within the wider construction industry of the problems that can occur and steps taken to avoid them. As ever, any failure or collapse (putting aside liability issues) causes great disruption and distress and if there is a fatality the ramifications change the lives not just of the victim but of all involved. When trends are identified then organisations that have influence are informed and can include groups, such as BCSA in this case, Institutions, Government Departments, and Local Authorities. If a change in recommendations or procedures is then made the circle is complete – from report to result. More reports are needed all the time and the success of CROSS depends upon it. Individuals and firms are encouraged to participate by sending concerns in confidence to http://www.structural-safety.org/

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

395 Partial roof collapse at shopping centre

There was a recent partial roof collapse at a Shopping Centre which was, says the reporter, built in the early 1970s in a form which may have been used extensively throughout the UK during this period and possibly beyond.

329 Design deficiencies in long span steelwork portal

A firm was commissioned to design steel joints on a large, single-storey supermarket structure for a fabricator. Construction was underway and steelwork was due on site in a matter of weeks. Whilst carrying out a review of the design drawings the reporter’s consulting firm identified two areas of serious concern and brought them to the notice of the frame designer.

369 Substitution of undersize steel sections

Having read your recent warning on the failure of certified steel products (Newsletter No 29), despite having certification, a reporter feels it necessary to report a similar but more basic problem.

343 Inadequate steel beam splice

As part of a project a reporter provided the design for a steel beam. The client sourced this from a fabricator and it came with a mid-span splice.

393 Steelwork connection design

A reporter is concerned that on small domestic projects, architects frequently award contracts to small builders whose steelwork fabricators do not have the expertise to design connections or prepare fabrication drawings.

373 Polyethylene pipework handrails

A reporter has seen handrails for edge protection being provided using Polyethylene Pipework. One instance was on a site where the handrail has been used on an access platform fixed to formwork. Other defects were also apparent on this platform, such as the lack of toe boards, excessive gap between rails etc.

377 Certification of seismic design software

A reporter is concerned about third party certification of seismic design software, and believes that users should carefully consider the assumptions that have been made in any such program.

391 Proprietary software for cantilevers

Whilst checking output of a cantilever beam from a proprietary software package a reporter noted that the section incorrectly passed the lateral torsional buckling check because it failed to check the absolute value of the hogging moment against the allowable buckling moment.

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