Skip to main content

CROSS Safety Report

Failure to check designs produced by software

Report ID: 538 Published: 1 January 2016 Region: CROSS-UK

This report is over 2 years old

Please be aware that it might contain information that is no longer up to date. We keep all reports available for historic reference and as learning aids.

Overview

Concerns were raised about a proprietary design software after a building control officer noticed a regular error appearing while checking calculations provided to them.

They are concerned that this error was not picked up by the designer or during an internal check.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • It is good practice to check and validate all design outputs from proprietary design software

  • If you are concerned with any of the output’s, consider raising this with the software technical support team and seeking clarification

  • Raising awareness is the first step in the process of bringing about improvements to industry

  • The importance of validating software is noted in the Institution of Civil Engineers Civil Engineering Journal August 2013 - The importance of understanding computer analysis in civil engineering.

Full Report

Find out more about the Full Report

Our secure and confidential safety reporting system gives professionals the opportunity to share their experiences to help others. If you would like to know more, please visit the reporting to CROSS-UK page.

A reporter works as a building control officer and recently checked some blockwork wall calculations for a new office building that had been undertaken using proprietary design software. They noticed a regular error appearing that returned a value of zero for the effective plan area when performing the check for the minimum area required.

They queried the designer about this who in turn asked the software developer and it turns out there was an error in the software that no one had picked up before. While this error did not affect the ultimate design for the building, they found the issue rather concerning. It indicated that there had been a limited check of the output of the design software all along the line. As the error was obvious, it should really have been picked up before being submitted to building control.

Expert Panel Comments

Find out more about the Expert Panels

Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

It should not be down to building control to discover fundamental errors. In this case it is likely that the software had been used many times before without anyone noticing yet the error should have been picked up by the software house and by users. It also brings into question what kind of quality management systems or level of internal checking are being employed by designers.

There is well documented concern over inappropriate use of software and the reliance on software to give the right answer. Software should be validated and verified as noted in the Institution of Civil Engineers Civil Engineering Journal August 2013 ‘The importance of understanding computer analysis in civil engineering’.

Share your knowledge

Your report will make a difference. It will help to create positive change and improve safety.

Our secure and confidential safety reporting system gives professionals the opportunity to share their experiences to help others.