CROSS-UK report warns over unqualified RAAC assessments

A report has highlighted the risks of people without the necessary skills performing reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (RAAC) assessments.

The anonymised report was submitted by a person involved in RAAC surveys on buildings across England to the Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures UK (CROSS-UK). It showed that there is “a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between RAAC and normal structural concrete” and how it should be assessed.

Chartered surveyor and fire engineer Anthony Walker told CM the report emphasises the need to have professionals with the necessary qualifications and experience carrying out RAAC assessments.

“Following the recent announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) of safety concerns regarding RAAC and the need for surveys on schools affected, overnight I noticed companies advertising their services to carry out surveys,” Walker said.

“Some I have no doubt have qualified and experienced staff. But there are some that were a surprise, as I was not aware they had any appropriately qualified and experienced staff. So, potentially, we have quite a few schools engaging with the wrong people.”

‘Dire need’ for construction to build confidence

Walker worked for DfE between 2004 and 2014, where he led the development and delivery of the property data survey programme, the first national survey of around 20,000 schools in England.

At the end of August, DfE officials urged school leaders to put in place emergency evacuation plans for buildings containing RAAC. The number of schools with confirmed RAAC, as of 14 September, is 174.

Walker added: “The DfE has provided clear guidance on those who can assist RAAC and the CROSS-UK report reinforces the need to have competent people to do the work, ensuring that they have the relevant experience and do their due diligence.

“The Grenfell Inquiry highlighted that some individuals involved had falsified and inflated their qualifications, experience, and competence to deliver the services required. There’s a dire need across the industry to get the levels of confidence up in matters relating to public safety.”

CROSS-UK is an independent safety information reporting body that allows people to share concerns relating to fire safety and structural safety in buildings. Reports are anonymised and identifiable data is removed before publication.

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