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CROSS Safety Report

Polyethylene core cladding panels on a high-rise building

Report ID: 682 Published: 1 July 2017 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.

Overview

A reporter has raised concerns based on a past visit to a residential tower block in 2011 that had a  similar type of rainscreen panel to the one used on the Grenfell Tower.

It is believed that this block is privately owned so would not necessarily be picked up in a review of buildings owned by local authorities and housing associations.

Key Learning Outcomes

For all built environment professionals:

  • The risks posed by the use of combustible materials in the construction of high-rise residential buildings has been highlighted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy

  • Be aware that buildings completed or refurbished prior to 2017 may be at higher risk of containing combustible cladding components

  • The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have created a central point for collecting data on flats over 18m high that that have combustible core rainscreen cladding (ACM3)

Full Report

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A reporter writes as a precautionary measure following the Grenfell Tower fire. They say that a similar type of rainscreen panel, i.e. a polyethylene core with metal skin, was used at a residential tower block which they visited in 2011.

Are all buildings with dangerous cladding being identified?

The reporter does not know if the panels were used on all floors and all elevations and it is possible, they have since been replaced. However, they believe this needs to be reviewed and assume that someone somewhere is doing a review of all buildings with similar panels. This information can be then be fed into the proposed inquiry.

It is believed that this block is privately owned so would not necessarily be picked up in a review of buildings owned by local authorities and housing associations. Privately owned blocks may get overlooked in this review.

It is believed that this block is privately owned so would not necessarily be picked up in a review of buildings owned by local authorities and housing associations

How can we track down all buildings with dangerous cladding?

The Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA) might be able to assist in identifying suppliers, contractors and projects to support this review. However, it might be difficult to identify all the different panels of this type due to various different trade names.

The British Board of Agrément should be able to provide a list of similar products for which they have provided a BBA certificate. The French Agrément organisation and other similar European organisations might also be useful. The RIBA product finder and simple internet searches could also be used.

Are buildings with EPS insulation being reviewed?

The reporter is aware that the role played by expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) in the spread of flame has previously been raised in fire investigations in other blocks. They believe that a similar review should be carried out for high-rise buildings with EPS insulation.

In general, the reporter believes it would be useful to hold a register of high-rise buildings and what cladding system has been used. This would make it much easier to take proactive measures in the event of problems arising.

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.

A central point for collecting data on flats over 18m high that that have combustible core rainscreen cladding (ACM3) has been set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). However, this report was received before it was established, and it was passed to the relevant local authority.

Similar reports that identify specific buildings will be passed to DCLG without the name of the reporter being given, if that is the reporter’s wish. It is hoped that the database will be updated with details of what steps have been taken in relation to cladding and associated safety matters.

There will be a great deal said and written about this awful tragedy. But until there are recommendations from the inquiry, or from other authoritative sources, CROSS will only comment on factual statements. 

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