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CROSS Safety Alert

Preventing the collapse of free-standing masonry walls

Region: CROSS-UK, CROSS-AUS, CROSS-US Published: 1 September 2014


There have been collapses of free-standing masonry walls over many years and there have been fatalities and numerous injuries; particularly to children.

Everyone in the building industry should be aware of the dangers of vulnerable walls such as: those that appear to be very slender, those which are loose, those that have different soil levels on each side, those that lean, and those where there are signs of damage or deterioration.

Most simple walls have not been structurally designed, or selected in accordance with recognised guidelines, but are constructed by small builders or householders. They often have excessive height to thickness proportions and are without adequate piers, buttressing or reinforcing.

Note: this Safety Alert was published by SCOSS (Standing Committee on Structural Safety). Since March 2021, SCOSS is integrated under the name Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS).

Who should read this?

Those who own, design, construct, inspect or maintain free-standing walls which front onto streets, paths, yards or gardens or walls within buildings. Owners, contractors, civil and structural engineers, surveyors, local authority building control officers.

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