RAAC plank safeguarding – challenging the status quo

With the issue of addressing the risks from RAAC planking in public buildings such as hospitals and schools very much in the spotlight in recent months, Alister Broadberry, Area director for the Eastern Counties at Morgan Sindall Construction, describes the business’s recent work for a Norfolk acute hospital Trust to help keep their structural RAAC planks safely, swiftly, and securely propped ‘for years to come’.

The last few years have seen the NHS stretched further than ever – and over the past 2-3 years, it has rarely been out of the headlines. One of the less widely publicised challenges facing our health services, however, stems from its actual structures. It all comes down to the historic use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the construction of a number of hospitals and school buildings. This lightweight form of concrete was used primarily for roofs from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s. It was seen as a faster, cheaper source of building manufacture, but it largely consists of air, leaving it vulnerable to moisture ingress and tensile deterioration. 

The limited durability of RAAC structural components has long been recognised, with lifespans expected to be only 30 years, yet many are still in service four decades later. The sudden collapse of a ceiling at an Essex primary school, back in 2018, propelled the issue into the spotlight – and recent reports including those by the LGA and the DfE have suggested the problem may be more serious than previously recognised, with failures being recorded before adequate visual deterioration had been identified

Survey on RAAC

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