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CROSS Safety Report

Further Multi-Storey Car Park (MSCP) concerns

Report ID: 127 Published: 1 January 2009 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter raises their concerns over the potential safety issue of older car parks that are suffering neglect through lack of inspection and routine maintenance.

Key Learning Outcomes

For asset owners and managers:

  • Regular inspections and maintenance can help keep a structure safe and identify any obvious safety issues that need to be addressed

  • Be aware that safety critical defects may be hidden behind linings

  • If you are concerned about the state of a structure, consider having a structural assessment carried out on it by a suitably qualified engineer

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The following is a communication from a reporter expressing concern about another potential failure of a Multi-Storey Car Park (MSCP):

‘I was saddened to read the article in the New Civil Engineer dated 2 October 2008 with regard to “Nottingham Car Park shuts amid collapse fears”. I am sure this is not an isolated incident. There are many older car parks which are suffering from neglect through lack of regular inspection and routine maintenance.

Clients are alerted to structural defects generally only after significant deterioration has taken place and there is some visual evidence of a problem i.e. cracking. Early stages of structural failure often go unnoticed and by the time a significant defect is discovered the structure is too far gone to repair. Needless to say, my main concern is for the users of the car park who have no idea how close it may be to collapse and have put their total trust in us structural engineers.

My recommendation is to make it compulsory to prepare and instigate a Life-care Plan for all MSCPs and to lobby Government to this effect. By way of comparison, if an aircraft crashed all others of the same type would be grounded until the problem was identified and fixed – so why do we continue to allow significant structures of this type to remain in service without any form of structural assessment. If the Department for Transport make it mandatory to regularly inspect all bridges, why not inspect and certify car parks when they are simply an extension of the highway?
 

My recommendation is to make it compulsory to prepare and instigate a Life-care Plan for all MSCPs and to lobby Government to this effect

On my last enquiry with Thomas Telford Publishing the ICE “Recommendations for inspection, maintenance and management of car park structures” was sadly out of print with no plans to reprint it - presumably because the interest has gone and commercially it is no longer viable. Why not update it or make it available online.
 
As an industry we need to go a stage further as we have reached this point before after the collapse of
Pipers Row.  If there was more awareness of the owner/operator’s liabilities and responsibilities through changes in current legislation (with help from our Government) then we perhaps may be able to move this forward and avoid a potential catastrophic failure.'

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