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Balcony failures lead to new safety guidance

Posted: 22nd February 2022

Balconies and decks provide valued space in both high-rise buildings and individual family homes. Unfortunately, they are also associated with safety issues. With the number of high-rise buildings - and therefore the number of balconies – increasing; this has become a growing concern. As new forms of construction and procurement are adopted, there are now various potential causes of failure in balconies and other raised platforms.

This Safety Alert provides examples of where apparently safe balconies may become unsafe. The impacts of procurement, loading, design, construction, and in-use durability upon the long-term safety of balconies are considered in detail. This Alert also explores the risks presented by the use of combustible materials, and how balustrades can sometimes fail.

Older pre-cast concrete canopies over doorways share many features with balconies and this alert is also relevant to these structures.

CROSS panel member and Institution of Structural Engineers Gold Medal winner Allan Mann said:

“This Alert will help building designers, contractors and owners to understand why balconies sometimes fail. It’s important to learn from past events when designing, constructing, and managing buildings to reduce the risk of future failure. This Alert collates worldwide experience from which we can all benefit.”

Read the CROSS-UK Safety Alert here.