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    STRUCTURAL SAFETY ALERT: EFFECTS OF SCALE

    SCOSS issues alert after concerns disclosed over ‘large structures’

    The Standing Committee on Structural Safety has issued an Alert which SCOSS says is “prompted by concerns raised about some particularly large structures and is based on evidence made known to SCOSS.”

    The disclosures to SCOSS have prompted wider thinking about safety issues related to ‘scale’, so historical events are also discussed in the Alert. Some of the examples quoted (without detailed reference) are still subject to formal non-disclosure orders even years after the event.

    The issues covered in detail in the Alert are:

    • Long span steel beams
    • General effects of deflections
    • Issues with building height
    • Live loads
    • Thermal effects
    • Consideration of ‘whole building effects’
    • Large frame conclusion
    • Steel thickness & welding

    The Alert concludes:

    There are scale effects across several structural topics because of increases in height, span, and enclosed volume, which might well not be appreciated by the design community.

    All effects cited in this paper have the ability to degrade safety.

    The recommendation from SCOSS is that a far better understanding of large structure performance is needed. Large structures being defined as those whose dimensions are such that effects that are not well understood or where secondary effects pose challenges.

    To assess specific implications will require further research studies. SCOSS wants to promote these and thereafter to disseminate the concerns over scale effects that are determined.”

    What is SCOSS?

    SCOSS stands for Standing Committee on Structural Safety and was established in 1976 to maintain a continuing review of building and civil engineering matters affecting the safety of structures.

    SCOSS collects data from public sources and CROSS reports on all aspects of the safety of structures. If they consider that unacceptable risk exists or is likely to arise in the future, SCOSS then publish Alerts or Topic Papers to inform the industry of the risks identified.

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