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Temporary venues warning targets Olympic events

Structural safety experts this week issued a warning about the safety of temporary venues ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June.

The Standing Committee on Structural Safety (Scoss) issued an alert to raise awareness following a spate of high-profile collapses at major entertainment events.

Extra vigilance

Scoss is calling for extra vigilance when designing and using temporary structures because they could require similar designs to the stages that collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, in the United States and at a Pukkelpop music festival in Belgium (NCE 25 August 2011). Six people died at Indiana and 10 were killed in the Pukkelpop collapse.

Scoss fears that large temporary structures can be exposed to significant wind loading. It stressed the need to follow the appropriate guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers titled Temporary Demountable Structures Guidance and Procurement Design and Use - 3rd edition. This states that real time wind speeds must be monitored throughout the event.

Scoss is targeting authorities such as the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) and local authorities that may use temporary structures, such as outdoor TV screens, which could pose a risk to the public.

Clear lines of responsibility

Locog said it had appointed architect Populous and consultant Atkins to consider all aspects of temporary demountable structures. “The lines of responsibilities are clear and jointly they are responsible for ensuring that we comply with Town Planning Conditions and building control/licensing requirements,” said a Locog spokesman.

But Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety (Cross) director Alistair Soane said the alert could be more relevant for smaller venues not individually managed by specific building control officials.

“With a lot of expertise taken up by the Olympics, we want to increase awareness for the smaller projects where the contractor may have less experience in erecting temporary structures,” added Soane. He said structures that are erected for less than 28 days do not need building control officials and the legislation is “patchy” surrounding how the structures are therefore checked.

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