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CROSS Safety Report

Precast joint failures

Report ID: 107 Published: 1 July 2008 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 is interested in CROSS’s evidence about joint failures in concrete. They feel that the same failures keep arising from similar circumstances with none of the lessons having been learnt.

Key Learning Outcomes

For all built environment professionals:

  • Safe design and construction are about more than following the rules laid out in a current regulatory framework. The industry must act responsibly and take on board lessons learnt and not rely on revised legislation.

Full Report

Find out more about the Full Report

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 is interested in CROSS’s evidence about joint failures in concrete. It seems to them that a failure generates immediate publicity in the technical press and has an impact on engineers practicing at the time. Some years later the same failure arises from similar circumstances but again with none of the lessons having been learnt.

Whilst working for a large concrete component company in the early seventies they remember a half joint failure on a precast staircase (this one was internal) for the same reasons described in Report 88. The solution was to form a small pocket in part of the landing and stair flight nib which was then filled with in-situ concrete on site. This allowed anyone to check that the reinforcement was in the correct place following casting.

Such a solution is not, however, in current use by precast manufacturers. It seems to the reporter that there needs to be a formal link between the findings of failure investigations and those who draft standards to ensure that precautions necessary to prevent future failures are embedded into the latest codes of practice and standards. This would eliminate the need for those such as the reporter to rely on fading memories to pass on the dangers to the next generation of engineers.

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.

An objective of CROSS reports is to learn from the experiences of others particularly when there have been systemic failures. Codes of Practice cannot contain all the information needed for good design at the detail level. Indeed, Eurocodes are much more about principles, and as they are introduced more emphasis will be placed on best practice documents, training and supervision. This will help to avoid the use of sensitive details such as poor half joints.

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