In the news article Outdated loading codes triggered Polish collapse (NCE last week) Dave Parker gives some interesting theories about the tragedy in Katowice.
The Polish design code for snow load on structures indeed is outdated (1980), so is the code for temperature loads (1986). Works on revising these two codes are under progress, however I do not believe that was the main factor that caused the collapse. Would it be so, most of the structures built in Poland within the last 25 years are down for the count.
In the 1990s just after the fall of the Communist government, Poland became a very attractive market for western European investors.
Companies invested money, building mostly logistical facilities and shopping centres. Most of them were not interested in hiring Polish designers to prepare new and unique projects, but were adopting typical projects designed elsewhere - the hall built in Katowice was, for example, based on a plan made in Spain.
Modification of projects was often made without enough attention to the details, focusing rather on cost cutting. It resulted in a series of minor accidents in the late nineties. Some of the investors realised their mistake, making improvements to their structures, or assigning resources for appropriate maintenance.
Unfortunately e administrator of the hall in Katowice learned his lesson too late.
Tomasz Kucki, engineer, Jacobs Babtie, Simpson House, 6 Cherry Orchard, Road, Croydon CR9 6BE