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Sand blasting could have triggered Aldgate collapse


INVESTIGATORS WERE this week studying the masonry façade of a four storey building which collapsed in London last week.

The accident caused traffic chaos in the City as debris was thrown into the road forcing its closure.

The building was undergoing renovation work at the time of the failure. It is thought the collapse could have been caused by a weakening of the soft red brick façade during sand-blasting.

No-one was in the building at 30/30a Commercial Road in Whitechapel, east London when it collapsed.

The Health & Safety Executive is now investigating.

The application to renovate the building was dealt with by building control services company Regional Building Control Ltd (RBC). The company assesses plans to ensure they comply with building regulations on behalf of local council, Tower Hamlets.

Managing Director Colin Jackson defended the company's work on the project and said that the work his company approved was unaffected by the collapse.

No building design approval was needed for the sand blasting work.

'Where we were involved was at the rear of the building, which is still standing. The plan was to install box frames on the rear wall, ' he said.

The project contractor could not be traced by NCE and the owner of the building declined to comment on the collapse.

Wreckage still blocked the A13 Commercial Road as NCE went to press.

Standing Committee on Structural Safety secretary John Carpenter said that closer links between CDM, planning requirements and building regulations could prevent building collapses on small sites.

He argued that building applications for all projects should indicate how work is carried out not just what the completed renovation will look like.

This information is not currently required by planning authorities.

'Design impact should be considered, not just how plans will look once completed, but how things can be built, ' he said.

The calls echo concerns raised by the Federation of Master Builders who have previously called for tougher regulation of small scale structural building work (NCE 26 July 2001)

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