Opal report clarifies rare occurrence but structural design consistency is essential

The final report on structural failures in the Opal tower by three Professors of Engineering states that the failures were a rare occurrence says the Urban Taskforce.

“The final report on the structural failures on the Opal Tower focuses on engineering design errors as the primary cause.” says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The report goes on to recommend that engineers are registered, that third party engineers should check designs for major projects and that on-site inspections by an engineer are made at critical stages. The Urban Taskforce supports these recommendations depending on how ‘major projects’ and ‘critical stages’ are defined.”

“The report stresses that the Opal failure ‘was a very rare occurrence and we are confident in the strength of the National Construction Code and Australian building standards in terms of building safety’.  While the occurrence was rare it is still important that our design and construction systems for tall residential buildings learn from the Opal defects.”

“One area the report has not addressed is the Design Construct process where the developer commissions an engineer to design the structure and detail it to a reasonable level so that the developer can call tenders for the construction of the project and the completion of the design and documentation. Often a new engineer working for the successful builder will then rework the structural design. The recommendation by the expert panel that a third engineer is now engaged to certify the designs adds another review process. It will need to be clarified who the third engineer works for. It could be for the developer or for the builder.”

“These are practical issues the proposed NSW Building Commissioner will need to resolve as Design Construct contracts are often used for high rise residential towers.”

“The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the NSW Government in ensuring overall standards of engineering design are raised for major projects and that this includes a full understanding of the design construct process.”

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