CROSS Safety Report
Mobile phone masts
This report is over 2 years old
The concern of an overseas reporter is that erection, foundation design and construction, and maintenance of mobile phone masts are not carried out adequately.
Key Learning Outcomes
For construction professionals:
Quality control and competent supervision on site can help to ensure that the tower masts are built in accordance with the design
For civil and structural design engineers:
Connections can often be the weak link in structures and attention to detail is required to ensure what is designed can be fabricated
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The reporter in this case lives in a country which is experiencing explosive growth in the use of cellular phones. This is accompanied by a proliferation of steel towers, which are probably imported. The concern is that erection, foundation design and construction, and maintenance are not carried out adequately.
It was reported that during a squall a woman was driving past a tower when it collapsed on her car and she was killed. The reporter observed the erection of one tower and does not believe that the riggers had adequate training or expertise; procedures they were adopting were hazardous and there was no evidence of professional supervision.
They believe that the government in their country needs to take action perhaps to localize the design, manufacture, fabrication and erection and have legislation covering certification and monitoring.
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The concern is that whilst the towers themselves may be suitable there can be deficiencies with work on site and CROSS will be very interested in any similar examples. For example should the exporters of such towers have any responsibilities for erection and maintenance.
This is a complex issue and there could be a duty in respect of off-the-shelf products either as to suitable foundations or a warning that professional advice should be sought for the design of such foundations.
Maintenance is an issue with light members and designers do not always appreciate the needs of site inspection and the provision of safe means of access for this purpose. The protection of lightweight metal sections against the risks of corrosion must be borne in mind.