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CROSS Safety Report

Falsework collapse during slab pour in SE Asia

Report ID: 337 Published: 1 July 2013 Region: CROSS-UK

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There was a partial collapse of falsework on a project in Southeast Asia.

Key Learning Outcomes

For the construction team:

  • Having a competent temporary works designer/adviser in place to supply an engineered solution can ensure all temporary works are carefully considered and planned

  • Verification of temporary works erection by a competent person who can oversee and coordinate the whole process can also ensure the works are installed correctly

Full Report

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The Full Report below has been submitted to CROSS and describes the reporter’s experience. The text has been edited for clarity and to ensure anonymity and confidentiality by removing any identifiable details. If you would like to know more about our secure reporting process or submit a report yourself, please visit the reporting to CROSS-UK page.


According to a reporter there was a partial collapse of falsework on a project in Southeast Asia. They say that during a pause in a slab pour of a post tensioned slab with band beams, a collapse of the supporting falsework occurred across an area of approximately 300m2.

A forensic investigation led to the discovery of a multitude of errors with regards to falsework design and construction, any one of which could have led to the collapse. These included:

  • no falsework design for this area of complicated geometry

  • large floor to floor height

  • a mixture of different falsework systems used

  • overly large gaps between table forms

  • incorrect arrangement of table forms

  • missing bracing and a dangerous over-use of timber packing underneath scaffolds

It is thought that the main underlying reason for these deficiencies was the lack of good quality scaffolds available to the contractor, and hence an inadequate number/type of falseworks were deployed on the site in order to keep the project on schedule.

The reporter concludes that more stringent supervision should be employed by a person given an appropriate level of authority to stop works should they feel the contractor is proceeding unsafely.

Expert Panel Comments

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The report reinforces the message once again that site safety depends on the proper design of temporary works. There are several known cases of falsework collapsing under concrete pours leading to great commercial loss and sometimes to fatalities and severe injury.

The recommendations in BS5975:2008+A1:2011 ‘Code of practice for temporary works procedures and the permissible stress design of falsework’, are written to avoid such failures. BS5975 takes an in-depth look at all temporary structures and falsework. The standard defines falsework in detail and also gives clear guidelines on the procedural control of temporary works, including design, site supervision and loading.

These guidelines have served the UK well for over 25 years and themselves stem from the seminal Bragg report of 1975. Incidents such as the one described fail to safeguard the well-being of those involved and poor site control leads to situations where safety is seen as an expensive commodity that can be dispensed with in the interests of economy. Best practice should be universal, and these principles are just as relevant in other jurisdictions as they are in the UK. 


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