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What can be done to secure buildings from crumbling concrete?

The nation takes the safety and security of our buildings for granted. But the issue of the crumbling RAAC concrete has put the issue of unsafe structures into the national spotlight.

The issue

Almost 150 schools have been identified as having potentially dangerous concrete used on their buildings causing disruption, closures and chaos just as the new term starts.

The specific type of concrete – RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) has been used in roof, floor and wall construction since the 1960s and gained popularity in the following decades. Its lightweight properties and lower costs compared to regular concrete made it a popular choice on older construction projects. It has now been phased out and replaced by more standard types of concrete such as OPC (Ordinary Portland Cement) which is the most common. High-Strength Concrete (HSC) and Ready-mix concrete are also often used on construction sites.

Acrow props supporting a concreted ceiling

Essex and Kent have been at the centre of the issue with 40% of the affected schools in these two counties. We can provide services and solutions anywhere they are needed regardless of location. But what can be done to protect both the interior and exterior of concrete-clad buildings? Not only to the actual structure itself but also to the external perimeter to keep pupils and the public safe.

How can SafeSite Facilities help?

SafeSite Facilities have a range of products designed for this very scenario.

Acrow props, also known as adjustable steel props or post shores, are temporary support structures commonly used in construction and building maintenance to provide vertical support to ceilings, walls, beams and other structural elements. The props are an essential tool for ensuring the safety and stability of construction sites and buildings. Our acrow props are fully compliant with European BS4074 regulations.

Their telescopic designs allow contractors to adjust the height of the props to suit the specific requirements of the project. Acrow props are designed to support heavy loads, making them suitable for a wide range of applications whilst helping to prevent structural collapse or deformity during construction by providing temporary support.
Acrow props are a very popular choice in the industry as they are easy to install and adjust. The outer tube simply slips into the inner tube and they then simply secure in place by turning the mechanism. They are lightweight but very strong and three examples of their use are:

  • Falsework support for beams and concrete
  • Lateral structure for bracing to walls, columns, ceilings and stairs
  • Temporary support for repairs, lintels and canopies.

Concrete buildings

Fencing and hoarding

It’s not just inside the building that you could encounter problems. Parents or family members might be concerned about their children wanting a closer look at any potential damage, in turn then of course putting themselves in danger by getting too close or attempting to climb on unsafe areas. But whilst they might not recognize the risks, here at SafeSite Facilities we certainly do.

The solution to this is of course our anti-climb temporary fencing. It is designed to be placed around the perimeter of a site to direct pedestrians or onlookers to safer areas and away from hazards. Our temporary fence panels are ideal and the perfect solution if you need to keep people clear from a situation like falling concrete or a damaged building. Vehicle and pedestrian gates can also be implemented into the fence line to provide vehicular or on-foot access.

Alternatively, erecting steel hoarding around the perimeter of a site offers a good short-term option which is easy to install and quick to deploy. This can ensure the damaged building is shielded from view whilst repairs are carried out. Both of these products are excellent short-term answers for when urgent short-term work is needed. Again, a variety of gates can be fitted to suit your requirements
We also have an impressive range of water-filled barriers which make excellent demarcation points.

The solution

The concrete has also been discovered at two of the capital’s major airports with buildings at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports reporting traces of the substance.

Heathrow said it was taking “remedial steps” to mitigate any safety risk, while Gatwick said it was constantly monitoring affected areas. Both airports said passenger safety and flight operations would not be affected by the building materials.

Water filled barriers

Schools and other public places are often very busy with traffic and other vehicles moving around, so installing this range of barriers is a great option when you need to keep your site secure in a highly populated area. Barriers like the RB22 can be deployed within a short timeframe, simply slotting into place along a fence line, and mesh can also be attached for an extra layer of security. The mesh panels are fixed in place with a vertical pin and the barriers are screwed together using a metal fixing plate. The RB22 is one of our blue riband products with wind tested capabilities up to 78mph and able to withstand vehicular impact of up to 50mph.

The GB2 heavy duty barrier is the most cost-effective water filled barrier on the market. It can be used for quickly marking out extended areas on a construction site. Similarly, SafeSite’s Bison series of products can be used to provide a heavy duty and impenetrable presence on a site. This large barrier weighs 350kg when full and is also wind tested up to 75mph. As ever with our entire water filled range, added extras can be attached in the form of hoarding panels and both a vehicle gate and a pedestrian gate.

These are just a few of the many options you have at your disposal if you need to protect the public from a hazardous situation like the crumbling RAAC concrete.

Companies like SafeSite Facilities have everything you need to help make construction safer so contact a member of our sales team today to find out more.

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