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STRUCTURAL SAFETY ALERT: EXTERNAL WALL STABILITY

SCOSS issues Safety Alert after school wall collapse Inquiry report

The Structural-Safety website combining CROSS (Confidential reporting on structural safety) and SCOSS (Standing committee on structural safety) issues regular newsletters and includes a data base of reports, alerts and other publications.

This SCOSS Alert is based upon the Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools February 2017. It deals with the aftermath of the collapse of part the outer skin of a cavity wall at Oxgangs Primary School Edinburgh on 29th January 2016 in high winds. Nine tonnes of masonry fell onto an area used by pupils and other pedestrians although there was nobody in the vicinity at the time.

The Report concerns investigations into defects in the construction of the external walls of 16 other schools in Edinburgh, resulting in the enforced closure of all 17 schools for a period of several months. The buildings had been procured as part of the same Public Private Partnership contract between 2000 and 2005.

The SCOSS Alert deals only with structural safety aspects.

Who should read the SCOSS Alert?

This Alert is aimed at both public and private clients who own and commission buildings, designers, including architects and structural engineers, main contractors, sub-contractors, especially brickwork sub-contractors, building control officers and approved inspectors. It applies to buildings of all types; particularly those constructed in recent times with external brick panel walls.

Findings of the Report

The SCOSS Alert includes the statement:

“It is the view of the Inquiry that the primary cause of the collapse of the wall at Oxgangs school was poor quality construction in the building of the wall which failed to achieve the required minimum embedment of 50mm for the wall ties, particularly in the outer leaf of the cavity wall. The poor quality relates to all three of the following aspects:

  • the direct laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties;
  • the direct supervision of the laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties; and
  • the quality assurance processes used by the sub-contractor and main contractor to confirm the quality of the construction of the walls.

If the wall had been designed and built to the required appropriate standard it would have been able to withstand the level of wind loading to which it was subjected.”

 

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