Construction Safety Update : Preventing structural collapse in Construction

With the wall collapse last month on a site in Melbourne which claimed the lives of 3 pedestrians, the need for structural collapse in construction is a safety issue which requires attention. Therefore an alert has been issued by WorkSafe Victoria on their website www.worksafe.vic.gov.au highlighting the importance of ensuring structural stability of buildings and structures, especially when engaging in construction, demolition and refurbishment work.

This is the background to the alert as indicated on WorkSafe Vic’s website:

Background

The collapse of structures, including buildings, may result in death or serious injury to employees and the public.

There have been numerous incidents where structures have collapsed. This has been due to:

inclement weather, particularly wind

the foundations or temporary supports of the structure being undermined

lateral supports of the structure being removed

the structure receiving a heavy impact, or

any combination of these and other factors.

Incidents have included:

a portal steel building collapsing during construction

a house being restumped sliding off its jacks while employees were under the house

a carport wall under construction collapsing onto sheltering employees during a storm.

Read more http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/preventing-structural-collapse

One of the ways principal contractors can manage the risk is by checking the stability of structures at each stage of the construction. They could also install lateral supports which can help the wall or building remain sturdy during construction.

Before constructing buildings, bridges or any structures a strategic erection plan must be coordinated, one which incorporates the construction sequence, rate of building erection and support required for the wall or building. There may be a need for lateral or temporary supports which should be included in the structural drawings of the building.

Also where structures are being erected, exclusion zones should be established to exclude unauthorised personnel and the public from injury in the event of a collapse. Only workers who are authorised and necessary should operate within these exclusion zones. Passers-by should be protected from injury at all times, if this had been done on the Melbourne site, the 3 pedestrians may still be alive today.

WorkSafe goes on to explain control measures that should be implemented as well as information about temporary bracing inspections:

Temporary bracing inspections

a competent person should inspect the temporary bracing arrangements and verify in writing the stability of the structure when the bracing is first installed.

A competent person should regularly assess the stability of the structure while temporary bracing is required. Inspections should be done at regular intervals, based on a risk assessment that takes into account the structure’s condition, environmental factors and length of time the bracing has been in place.

In addition, an inspection should occur as soon as possible after an extreme weather event or other incident that could affect stability.

Read the alert on:http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/preventing-structural-collapse

It is also important to engage a qualified and competent engineer to provide specifications to ensure that the structure is stable and construction workers should stick to this precisely, at the end of each day and at the beginning of every new phase of construction, it is more than a matter of construction safety, it is a matter of public safety as well.

If you’re new to construction, here’s an outline of the important construction safety induction course

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