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Beware rushing into changing design codes, structurals urge

News : Cover story

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS on both sides of the Atlantic this week urged the profession to take time to assess precisely what happened at the World Trade Center last week before rushing to alter design codes.

'There are mechanisms in place (within legislation) to allow emergency alterations to codes where necessary, ' explained American Society of Civil Engineers manager for technical activities James Rossberg. 'However, one should be very cautious about assuming that what happened last week will lead to code changes.'

Rossberg pointed out that the profession should be patient and wait for the findings of the investigations into what happened at the World Trade Center before reaching any conclusions.

'As a profession we must be very careful. There is no reason for anyone to believe that the structure they work or live in is any less safe today than it was on 10 September, ' said Rossberg. 'Engineers take their marching orders from society - society has first to wrestle with the extent to which it wants to reduce the risks. Engineers must be on hand to ensure that society understands these risks.'

Dr Keith Eaton, chief executive of the UK Institution of Structural Engineers, agreed that it was important not to pre-empt the official investigation by making any rash decisions on the contents of codes and standards.

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