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CROSS Safety Report

Missing starter bars

Report ID: 37 Published: 1 July 2007 Region: CROSS-UK

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During an inspection the reporter observed that all the continuity starter bars projecting from the wall kicker were in fact loose.

Key Learning Outcomes

For construction professionals:

  • Quality control and competent supervision on site can help to ensure that the structure is built in accordance with the design

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • If possible, attend site to inspect pre-pour reinforcement installation, particularly for safety critical elements

  • If you are unable to attend site, ask the contractor for site photos of the installation of critical structural elements

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.


Much of the building structure was constructed from in-situ reinforced concrete. The reporter was a graduate engineer working on one of the three sections of the construction. The area of concern was the construction of a reinforced concrete wall. One of the reporter’s responsibilities was to check that the correct reinforcement had been fixed, and to mark the concrete pour height for the wall. 

During an inspection the reporter observed that all the continuity starter bars projecting from the wall kicker were in fact loose. What had happened was that during a previous pour these starter bars had been left out. To disguise/hide their omission, the steel fixer had cut a number of short lengths of bar and placed these on the kicker. Some grout was then splashed around the base of each bar to make it look as though it was cast into the existing concrete.

With the agreement of the Resident Engineer, a series of new starter bars were resin grouted into holes drilled into the existing concrete. Appropriate disciplinary action was taken against the person responsible for the deception.

Expert Panel Comments

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The engineer is to be congratulated on spotting this deliberate deception which otherwise could have had serious consequences. On site supervision and inspection has to be thorough and carried out by competent persons.

In another case just before the start of construction of some silos by slip forming a graduate engineer noticed that there were only half as many vertical bars as there should have been. The remainder were found at the back of the site ready to be disposed of by persons unknown.

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