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    ALERT: REINFORCED AERATED CONCRETE PLANKS

    Structural Safety body issues alert over recent failure

    Structural-Safety works with the industry on safety matters concerned with the design, construction and use of structures.

    The body comprises two entities; The Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS), a committee established to maintain a continuing review of building and civil engineering matters affecting the safety of structures, and CROSS, a confidential safety reporting scheme established to capture and share lessons learned which might not otherwise have had formal recognition.

    SCOSS has now issued (May 2019) Alert – Failure of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks

    The alert is aimed at owners of schools and similar buildings dating from the 1960-80s with flat roofs. Government Departments and Local Authorities who have schools and similar buildings in their asset portfolios. National Health Trusts, Dioceses/Parishes, building surveyors, architects, structural engineers, facilities managers and maintenance organisations may also be interested.

    Background from SCOSS Alert

    “In the 1980s there were many instances of failure of RAAC roof planks installed during the mid-1960s and a large proportion of such installations were subsequently demolished. Several case studies revealed some primary deficiencies e.g. incorrect cover to the tension steel, high span-to-depth ratio, insufficient provision of crossbars for providing anchorage for the longitudinal steel, failure in performance of roof membrane and rapid worsening of local corrosion of steel.

    In late 2018, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Department for Education (DfE) contacted all school building owners to draw attention to a recent failure involving a flat roof constructed using Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks.

    There was little warning of the sudden collapse. Although the failure was in a school, it is believed that RAAC planks are present in many types of buildings.

    This Alert is to emphasise the potential risks from such construction, most of which dates back to between the 1960-80s. Although called “concrete”, it is very different from traditional concrete and, because of the way in which it was made, much weaker.

    The useful life of such planks has been estimated to be around 30 years. Pre-1980 RAAC planks are now past their expected service life and it is recommended that consideration is given to their replacement.”

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