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467 Large stone panel falls from building facade

Report ID: 467

Published: Newsletter 55 - July 2019

Report Overview

A large stone panel detached from a second floor beam and fell to the ground, narrowly missing a group of school children.

Report Content

A reporter was working in Asia on a building with a lobby that was open to the outside between the ground and second floors. One day the reporter was coming down an escalator in this area and witnessed a stone facade tile panel about 1m x 0.5m x 50mm thick detach from the face of the second floor concrete beam and fall to the ground. A group of school children were standing not far from where the panel fell.

The reporter believes that the fixings holding the panel in place had either corroded or failed with temperature variation cycles in fatigue (or a combination of both). They note that the stone panels were slightly eccentric to the face of the concrete beam, which may have caused an increased stress and corrosion rate on the fixings.

The reporter was relieved that no one was hurt. They reported the incident to their manager who they hoped would inform the building owner.

Comments

This report adds to the body of evidence which CROSS has on failures of fixings and items falling off buildings, some of which are summarised in the 2010 SCOSS Alert on The Selection and Installation of Construction Fixings.

The reporter correctly observes that the failure of a fixing in this situation has the potential to cause fatalities or severe injuries. The report also emphasises the value of paying design attention to what might at first seem a minor structural system. In reality, façades are important structural systems whose failure have caused fatalities in other instances, and the attention given to their design should reflect their safety critical nature.

The specification of any inspection and maintenance requirements for façade fixings should also be considered, which may require a combination of regular visual inspections with full inspections at appropriate intervals.

The reporter’s comments about eccentricity should alert designers to be realistic about judging the loads on fixings and to ensure that their designs are not sensitive to small changes. Due to tolerance, misalignment and so on, panel loads will most certainly not be shared equally amongst multiple fixings. Slight changes in projection can have dramatic consequences in terms of applied bending.

One of the largest categories for CROSS reports is failed fixings (or anchors) and the advice is always to treat these components very seriously from the perspectives of design, procurement, inspection, testing and installation. As well as manufactuers instruction, the Construction Fixings Association (CFA) website and CIRIA publication C778 Management of safety-critical fixings are useful references.

BS EN 1992-4:2018, which was published in October 2018, is the relevant standard for the design of fastenings for use in concrete. The UK National Annex for this standard was published in March 2019.

 

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View other CROSS reports published in Newsletter 55


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