Building control services and communication on incidents and accidents related to buildings must be improved – safety investigation completed on the collapse of a roof in an activity park in Tornio, Finland, on 15 March 2018
The Safety Investigation Authority has completed the safety investigation on the collapse of a roof on 15 March 2018 in an activity park in Tornio. No one was injured in the accident, even though there were several children playing near the area where the roof collapsed.
The Safety Investigation Authority repeats the recommendation it gave in 2004, 2011 and 2012 regarding the development of a database for building damage. The recommendation given in 2007 to unite the Building Control Services of different municipalities is also repeated.
The Safety Investigation Authority recommends a database for the construction industry to be developed, led by the Ministry of the Environment, in which as much data as possible is collected on accidents and incidents related to buildings. Everyone should have access to the database, and summaries on the data should be drawn up at appropriate intervals.
The direct cause of the Tornio accident was the failure of two steel supports that were supporting wooden beams, and this, in its turn, was mainly caused by poorly welded joints. There are other buildings in Finland where poor design and implementation cause a risk of a major accident. The only solution to the problem is to inspect and repair the structures, although not even this is an entirely watertight solution. Competence and awareness are improved with every found damage, but information on the damage and possible solutions for the problems are not shared widely enough at the moment.
The Safety Investigation Authority also recommends that the Ministry of the Environment take the necessary action to unite the Building Control Services of different municipalities to create larger entities; this way each local building control authority would have the necessary expertise to supervise and control various buildings and structures.
In the investigated case, the Building Control Services of the municipality had rightly demanded an inspection of the load-bearing structures, as the old factory buildings were being converted into recreational facilities. These demands had to be emphasised with a conditional imposition of a fine. The building was in use even though some of the actions that were prerequisite to the use of the building were yet to be carried out. In addition, no final inspection had been done. If Building Control Services were larger and independent from individual municipalities, it would enable authorities to better control building and modification projects, especially those that are more unusual, and ensure their safety. Competence and the strength to make demands are required also when controlling use-phase building inspections.
Kai Valonen, Chief Safety Investigator, tel. +358 (0) 295 150 707
Veli-Pekka Nurmi, Executive Director, tel. +358 (0)295 150 701