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CROSS Safety Report

Unsafe street lighting columns

Report ID: 98 Published: 1 April 2009 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 raises concerns over the poor construction of street light poles and advertisement boards.

Key Learning Outcomes

For asset owners and managers:

  • Regular inspections and maintenance can help keep a structure safe and identity any obvious safety issues  

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • Selecting the correct fixings and their corrosion protection for the given environment is important to ensure they perform as expected 

For construction professionals:

  • Grouting should be installed as per the construction details and the manufacturers specifications. Talk to their technical details to ensure that you understand the correct grouting procedure.

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.


An overseas reporter says that majority of street light poles and advertisement board bases in their location are not constructed to the proper standard of safe practice for structural engineering and this creates a potential source of accidents. Errors include inadequate minimum edge distance between concrete face and bolt centres, no grout between base plate and foundations, and no protection to the bolts and base plates (Figure 1). The reporter believes these could affect the safety of road users.

Figure 1: base connection of light pole

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.

Design and construction standards for new street lighting columns have been in use for several years, but older structures still exist, and it is probably these which are the subject of UK press reports. In one town more than 500 lamp posts were deemed to be unsafe and a survey of lamp posts in another found that they were suffering ‘structural failure’ where more than half have been eroded by rain and dogs.

Ten percent of the 6.5m lighting columns in the UK were estimated to be in urgent need of repair or replacement. Steel columns can suffer from fatigue due to wind oscillation, and by the seaside even galvanised post have a very finite life. Corroded lamp posts in particular pose a big risk if they are hit by a vehicle and potentially unsafe columns should be reported to local authority Highways Departments.

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