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Could a risk assessment prevent disasters like the Meyersdal building collapse?

by , 20 August 2014
On Monday, a building structure collapsed on a Meyersdal construction site. This tragic accident resulted in the deaths of nine people and eight more were seriously injured.

It's times like this when employers and safety officers start asking questions about how they could have prevented accidents like this.

For example, some construction employers want to know if something as simple as a risk assessment could prevent something as serious as a structural collapse.

Here's the answer to this question...

 

A risk assessment could potentially prevent a structural collapse disaster

 
The aim of a risk assessment is to identify and prevent risks that can cause serious accidents. Now this can be a very broad observation if you go in without a clear focus. 
 
To prevent serious accidents like building collapses, you'll need to go in with a very clear focus and look for structural risks. This can help you spot any weak areas in the construction that could lead to a collapse.
 
So when you do this focused structural risk assessment, keep your eyes out for these things.
 
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Here's what to look out for when you do a structural risk assessment

 
You should combine this assessment with structural testing on the building support structures and look out for:
 
- Support structures that break or crack easily during testing;
- Cracks in the walls or floors that may suggest the foundation is shifting;
- Loose or moving ground around the foundation that suggests the foundation isn't secure; and
- Support beams or structures that aren't at the right angle to support weight properly.
 
It's incredibly important to test the structures as you do this assessment as structural problems aren't as obvious as other risks. 
 
Get a qualified structural engineer and surveyor to do the assessment with you as he'll have the training to recognise possible fatal structural problems. 


PS: We strongly recommend you check out the Risk Assessment Guide. It has everything you need to ensure your risk assessments are 100% legally compliant


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