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CROSS Safety Report

Incorrect use of timber joist hanger

Report ID: 95 Published: 1 January 2008 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter has become aware of another collapse resulting from the incorrect use of proprietary timber joist hangers in housing construction.

Key Learning Outcomes

For construction professionals:

  • Quality control and competent supervision on site can help to ensure that components such as joist hangers are installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements

  • It is good practice to carry out risk assessments for all construction activities. This can help to ensure all risks are identified and the appropriate measures implemented.

Full Report

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A reporter has become aware of another collapse resulting from the incorrect use of proprietary timber joist hangers in housing construction.  Although no injuries occurred in this latest incident such collapses have the potential for fatalities. 

These structural components rely on a certain height of masonry being constructed above the hanger before the floor is loaded, in order to achieve structural integrity. It appears that those on site are often unaware of this restriction and load the floor before the masonry is continued above floor level. 

Enquiries of manufacturers and suppliers also reveals a lack of understanding by staff, and a lack of appropriate warning data at the point of sale.

Expert Panel Comments

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Failures such as this serve as a warning that the incorrect sequence of construction can cause collapse. In January 2007 magistrates ordered a contractor to pay a substantial fine after four members of a bricklaying gang were injured when the first floor of the two-storey house in which they were working collapsed. The Inspector of Health and Safety who investigated the accident said:

House builders and others who use joist hangers should make sure that they have carried out an adequate assessment of the risks associated with using joist hangers in the particular buildings they are working on.

They added: ‘A suitable and sufficient risk assessment, taking account of manufacturers' instructions, should enable them to develop safe systems of work. Those working on construction sites of this type should be fully informed of the safe systems of work to follow.’

Advice should be available to the purchasers and users of joist hangers on their proper use.

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