Roof collapse safety alert issued

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland released a new safety alert to highlight that sudden roof collapse can happen without warning.

The alert provides guidance for building owners, schools, local government, building managers and body corporates about minimizing the risk of roof collapse, and focuses on roofs with trusses that have large continuous spans and timber trusses with tiled roofs.

The safety alert was issued following a roof collapse at a Queensland school this month. It is understood the collapse happened suddenly without warning. Fortunately, the incident took place at night and the building was not occupied.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recommends inspecting of roofs with large spans without intermediate support. A competent person should carry out the inspection and should include but not limited to the removal of ceiling components and other physical barriers to the extent necessary to ensure an adequate inspection of critical parts of the roof and supporting structures; inspection of all critical structural components and connections including walls and columns supporting the ends of trusses; check for signs of timber damage caused by termites, borers and other pests as well as degradation of timber and/or steel from the ingress of water potentially from leaks in the roof or gutter; examination of supporting walls and/or columns to check for movement and any adverse effect on the truss or other roof members; examination of any additions or changes to the original design to verify these do not have adverse effects; and to evaluate effects on the structure of nearby construction or excavation works.

“Periodical inspection of buildings should be a continuing process for the life of a building. The interval between these inspections should be determined by a competent person and will vary depending upon factors such as the building’s history, its design, its location and its susceptibility to deterioration. For example, the building may have been subject to movement from reactionary soils, attack from termites, or previous works that may have been carried out,” the alert states.

More information about this safety alert is available on www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

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