CROSS Safety Report
Office ceiling collapse
This report is over 2 years old
This reported event was in a commercial office building at a major airport.
Key Learning Outcomes
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
- Careful consideration is required for connections, particularly at interfaces between different materials. The role of tolerances should not be overlooked.
- An attribute of ‘safety’ is to assure that the design is not disproportionately vulnerable to minor error
- The recent alert by the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) – The selection and installation of construction fixings, provides helpful guidance
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This reported event was in a commercial office building at a major airport. There was a lightweight composite deck roof which was deemed insufficient for aircraft noise break-in. For this reason a double layer plasterboard plus mineral fibre overlay ceiling was recommended. This partially collapsed one morning – fortunately without any injuries. The reporter believes that the suspension system utilised undersized washers.
Expert Panel Comments
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This is another collapse of a heavy acoustic ceiling similar to those already reported and which contributed to the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) alert – The selection and installation of construction fixings.
This pattern of such failures needs further publicity as it is likely that the importance of the selection and installation of fixings is overlooked and the loads from acoustic ceilings, and other heavy ceilings, are underestimated.
The fact that these fixings are safety critical is not understood by those managing the design and construction process. The Alert mentioned above sets out the key actions for safe choice, design, installation and use of fixings. You can search for safety information on ceilings on the CROSS website.
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