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CROSS Safety Report

Local authority checking

Report ID: 41 Published: 1 March 2006 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.


A reporter feels that many small consulting engineering companies rely on local authority building control departments to check their work in lieu of proper in-house quality control.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • It is good practice to check and verify design calculations prior to submitting them to local building control

  • Checkers of design models should ensure the model and its input data are appropriate, and that the output makes sense. The checker should consider if anything has been omitted or overlooked.

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

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.


A reporter comments on the reference made in Newsletter No 1 to local authority checking. Their experience, having been employed by several small engineering companies, is that consulting engineers routinely rely on local authority building control departments to check their work in lieu of proper in-house quality control.

Local building control departments may, says the reporter, be inadequately staffed with suitably qualified engineers who have the requisite skills and/or time to check designs in detail. It is fortunate in his view that more failures have not occurred and that those that do occur are minor with more economic impact than impact upon public safety.

Of special concern to the reporter is the situation that often occurs when a submission is checked that contains a large proportion of computer generated design. They have experience of engineers who have given only cursory attention to this element of a project, perhaps assuming it is right because it comes from a computer. However, they may lack the time or computational resources, or have under-priced the checking commission, to carry out proper checks.

Expert Panel Comments

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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.

Both local authority resources and computer aided design were raised in the last Newsletter (No 1) and in order for CROSS to determine the magnitude of these concerns more reports are requested. If possible they should be specific as to engineering facts but of course no identification will be given to the CROSS reviewers.

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