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CROSS Safety Report

Safety issues with composite metal deck floors

Report ID: 288 Published: 1 January 2012 Region: CROSS-UK

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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 contractor had a near miss when pouring a concrete slab with permanent formwork.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • Be aware that the deflection of permanent formwork under the self weight of the concrete needs to be properly considered

  • If there are any uncertainties seek advice from the permanent formwork manufacturer

  • It should be clearly stated on the drawings if temporary propping is required and whether slabs are to be laid to level or to a constant thickness

  • Helpful guidance can be found in the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) publication P300

For construction professionals:

  • If you are unsure of the deflection allowances or propping requirements of permanent formwork, seek clarification from the design engineer

For permanent formwork suppliers:

  • The deflection of permanent formwork should be taken into account when specifying the sheeting

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.


A reporter had an enquiry from a contractor who had a near miss: they were building a structure with 8-10m span beams supporting a large slab on metal decking and using laser levelling as the concrete was being poured.

Works stopped on site

The slab kept taking more concrete to bring it up to level and the site engineer became concerned when the structure began to make creaking and banging noises. They stopped placing concrete and phoned the design engineers and asked them whether they wanted the slab placed to constant level or constant thickness.

They took time to think about it and then phoned back to say ‘you’d better place it to constant thickness’. The slab was safely cast - but the contractor had a problem because its surface was up to 80mm out of level, which was well outside specification.

Industry wide problem

The reporter then made enquiries and spoke to various people in the industry who confirmed that there is a problem. However, because of the fragmented nature of the industry with design and build contracts and reliance on performance specifications, everyone felt that it was a problem they could not solve on their own.

It was obvious, said the reporter, that unless there is a concerted campaign for an industry wide solution, nothing is going to change until there is a disaster. It would be very helpful if CROSS could take up the issue and support the proposal as nothing is going to happen unless a lot of people across the industry can be made aware of the problem and persuaded to make solving it a priority.

Industry guidance

There is a paper in Concrete (September 2011) entitled 'Floor slabs, lasers and levels' which discusses problems which have developed from changes in the methods of constructing and levelling in situ concrete slabs, particularly composite slabs on metal decking.

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.

For comments see CROSS report 215 published in Newsletter No 21 January 2011.

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