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Paris collapse exposes UK design check flaws

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BRITAIN NEEDS tighter design approval procedures if it is to avoid disasters like France's Charles de Gaulle airport minal, leading structural engineers said this week.

Those heading the calls for change include Dome engineer and Buro Happold partner Ian Lidell and Waterman managing director Bob Campbell.

The ICE/IStructE Standing Committee for Structural Safety (SCOSS) also backed the move.

It wants mandatory independent third party checks for innovative, complex and unusual structures.

The move follows the collapse of part of the innovative ultra thin long span shell roof of Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle airport in May last year, when four people died.

Investigators criticised client Aèroports de Paris for failing to get its in-house design independently checked.

Changes to UK practice could be brought in through a revision of Part A of the Building Reg lations or via the current vision of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations.

Calls for the new checks are expected to be backed in SCOSS's next biennial report, due out next month.

'Extreme structures should be checked by a second team with the essential expertise, ' said Waterman managing director Bob Campbell. 'These checks should be mandatory and paid for directly by the client.

'What happened at Terminal 2E shows the risk of trying to cut costs by checking a very unusual structure in-house' (NCE 17 February).

SCOSS has been calling for several years for independent third party checks on innovative structures and those whose failure would have serious safety consequences.

The Highways Agency insists on third party checks for the most demanding Category 3 structures, which tend to be long span or highly skewed bridges.

These were introduced after several box girder bridges collapsed in the 1970s.

'Such rules shouldn't just apply to innovative structures;large structures with high public occupancy also need independent checks, ' said SCOSS secretary John Carpenter.

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