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804 Inadequate structural design on some industrial steel structures

Report ID: 804

Published: Newsletter 54 - April 2019

Report Overview

On some industrial projects associated with plant, a reporter's firm believes that steel structures are being erected without a design being carried out by a competent structural engineer and are therefore potentially dangerous.

Report Content

On some industrial projects associated with plant, a reporter's firm believes that steel structures are being erected without a design being carried out by a competent structural engineer and are therefore potentially dangerous.

This may be because some suppliers are CE marking structures to the Machinery Directive rather than the Construction Products Directive. The latter is the more appropriate for steel structures, and products should be certified to both Directives in cases of overlap.

The firm also consider that the CDM Regulations are being widely disregarded resulting in avoidable hazards during construction, operation, maintenance and demolition. Since the plant structures are usually unoccupied, Building Control approval is not required and there is therefore no external oversight.

Furthermore, the plants are often described as mobile even though they are usually fixed in position for many years and this may provide further loopholes in regulation.

Comments

The Machinery Directive, Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006, is a European Union directive aimed at the free market circulation of machinery and at the protection of workers and consumers using such machinery. Its main intent is to ensure a common safety level in machinery placed on the market or put in service in all member states. There is, it would seem, no requirement for such machinery to come within the scope of the Building Regulations.

Regulation 9 of the Building Regulations, Exempt buildings and work, states that the regulations do not apply to the erection of any building or extension of a kind described in Schedule 2. Schedule 2 lists different classes of exempt buildings and work, of which Class 2 is buildings not frequented by people and includes "a detached building into which people go only intermittently and then only for the purpose of inspecting or maintaining fixed plant or machinery". There are further requirements for Class 2 buildings, depending on how close they are to other buildings and the site boundary.

This unfortunate anomaly in UK legislation means that there are types of structure which are exempt from Building Control. These might be frames supporting plant which might thereby have to support both heavy loading and vibratory loads which are especially hazardous and require especially skilled design e.g. against fatigue and vibration.

On the basis that the reporter describes the arrangement as a 'structure' and refers to a structural engineer, then it's probable the design and construction phase of the 'structure' will fall in scope of CDM. Even if it were argued that CDM doesn’t apply, on the basis that there is an undertaking (a commercial project) and workers and/or public may be exposed to risk, then the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 may apply to all CDM dutyholders.

Once constructed, then generally Building Control can deal with all structures (not just buildings) when they become dangerous. However, depending upon the circumstances, the HSE may be the most appropriate enforcing authority. It is not unusual for the HSE and Building Control to work in partnership.

 

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View other CROSS reports published in Newsletter 54


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