CROSS Safety Report
Stress fracture on temporary compact stairs
A stress fracture to a temporary access compact stair unit was identified on site by a scaffold manager.
Key Learning Outcomes
For contractors and scaffold managers:
- Careful consideration should be given to choosing the correct product for a site considering access and egress via scaffolds and stair towers and the loads they will be subjected to
- If you are unsure if a product is best suited for your project requirements consult with the technical department of the manufacturer to learn more about the product
- Signage is helpful in drawing attention to the load limitations
- Regular inspections for cracks on site staircases should be carried out and documented, particularly if subject to heavy usage
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A stress fracture to a temporary access compact stair unit was identified on site by a scaffold manager. Following identification of the fracture, the stair unit was returned to the manufacturer for full analysis. In addition to this analysis, Finite Element (FE) analysis was also carried out to investigate the stress and mechanical behaviour as well as actual physical tests to support the FE analysis to recreate the on-site results.
During the investigation it became clear that the stair unit was subjected to a great deal of site traffic, which far exceeded its design capacity and in some cases the flights were subjected to loading of up to 3-4 times over its capacity for long periods of time. It was also highlighted that 1.0 kN/m2 limitation was not fully appreciated or understood.
The stair manufacturer has taken this on board and will take steps to emphasise the 1.0 kN/m2 = (1 x Person per flight at any one time) limitation. This will help in choosing the right application for this product.
The key findings from the issue are summarised as:
1) There must be awareness of how to choose the correct product for a site considering access and egress via scaffolds and stair towers.
2) Signage is helpful in drawing attention to the load limitations.
3) Regular checks for cracks on site staircases should be carried out, particularly if subject to heavy usage.
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