Skip to main content

CROSS Safety Report

Inadequate structural design on industrial steel structures

Report ID: 804 Published: 1 April 2019 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

A reporter's firm believes that steel structures associated with plant are being erected without a design being carried out by a structural engineer and are therefore potentially dangerous.

They are concerned that as the plant structures are usually unoccupied, building control approval is not required and there is therefore no external oversight.

Key Learning Outcomes

For clients and construction professionals:

  • While a structure supporting plant may be exempt from the building regulations, it may have to support both heavy and vibratory loads and should have a design carried out by a suitably competent structural engineer

  • Even if it were argued that CDM Regulations 2015 do not apply to a structure, if there is an undertaking (a commercial project) and workers and/or public may be exposed to risk, then the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 may apply to all CDM 2015 dutyholders

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.

On some industrial projects associated with plant, a reporter's firm believes that steel structures are being erected without a design being carried out by a competent structural engineer and are therefore potentially dangerous.

This may be because some suppliers are CE marking structures to the Machinery Directive rather than the Construction Products Directive. The latter is the more appropriate for steel structures, and products should be certified to both Directives in cases of overlap.

The firm also consider that the CDM Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are being widely disregarded resulting in avoidable hazards during construction, operation, maintenance and demolition. Since the plant structures are usually unoccupied, building control approval is not required and there is therefore no external oversight.

The firm also consider that the CDM Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are being widely disregarded resulting in avoidable hazards during construction, operation, maintenance and demolition

Furthermore, the plants are often described as mobile even though they are usually fixed in position for many years and this may provide further loopholes in regulation.

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.

The Machinery Directive, Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006, is a European Union directive aimed at the free market circulation of machinery and at the protection of workers and consumers using such machinery. Its main intent is to ensure a common safety level in machinery placed on the market or put in service in all member states. There is, it would seem, no requirement for such machinery to come within the scope of the building regulations.

Exempt buildings

Regulation 9 of the building regulations, exempt buildings and work, states that the regulations do not apply to the erection of any building or extension of a kind described in Schedule 2. Schedule 2 lists different classes of exempt buildings and work, of which Class 2 is buildings not frequented by people and includes ‘a detached building into which people go only intermittently and then only for the purpose of inspecting or maintaining fixed plant or machinery’. There are further requirements for Class 2 buildings, depending on how close they are to other buildings and the site boundary.

Anomaly in UK legislation

This unfortunate anomaly in UK legislation means that there are types of structure which are exempt from building control. These might be frames supporting plant which might thereby have to support both heavy loading and vibratory loads. These loads are especially hazardous and require especially skilled design e.g. against fatigue and vibration.

These might be frames supporting plant which might thereby have to support both heavy loading and vibratory loads. These loads are especially hazardous and require especially skilled design e.g. against fatigue and vibration.

On the basis that the reporter describes the arrangement as a 'structure' and refers to a structural engineer, then it is probable the design and construction phase of the structure will fall in scope of CDM 2015. Even if it were argued that CDM 2015 doesn’t apply, on the basis that there is an undertaking (a commercial project) and workers and/or public may be exposed to risk, then the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 may apply to all CDM 2015 dutyholders.

Can building control deal with all structures?

Once constructed, then generally building control can deal with all structures (not just buildings) when they become dangerous. However, depending upon the circumstances, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may be the most appropriate enforcing authority. It is not unusual for the HSE and building control to work in partnership.

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.