On 7 September 2022, the Office of Government Property sent a ‘Safety Briefing Notice’ to all Property Leaders, regarding the dangers of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). It states that “RAAC is now life-expired and liable to collapse”. The LGA has been contacting councils in relation to RAAC in schools, but it can be found in all types of public building. We have reproduced the letter for the benefit of councils, as shown below.
Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete
Date: 7 September 2022
Safety of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete in existing buildings
During 2021 we highlighted the safety issues relating to the historic use of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in public buildings across the UK. This notice provides a further update on RAAC following the publication of the The Institution of Structural Engineers’ recent report on this subject.
RAAC is now life-expired and liable to collapse – this has already happened in two schools with little or no notice. RAAC is a lightweight form of precast concrete, frequently used in public sector buildings in the UK from the mid-1960s to at least the mid-1980s. It is mainly found in roofs, although occasionally in floors and walls. It is less durable than traditional concrete and there have been problems as a result, which could have significant safety consequences.
It is important that those responsible for the management, maintenance or alteration of central and local government buildings know whether their buildings contain RAAC and, where they do, they act appropriately to ensure that such buildings are deemed safe. Action is already being taken by OGP to set standards in this area to support organisations to meet their operational responsibility in addressing the risks of RAAC. The health and education sectors have identified a number of buildings with this issue and are currently working on appropriate remedial actions.
Visually, RAAC planks may look the same as precast concrete, and may be hidden above false ceilings. For initial identification of RAAC in existing buildings, it may be necessary to engage an appropriately qualified and experienced construction professional, for example a chartered structural engineer, a registered architect or a chartered surveyor. Guidance on how to look for RAAC in buildings has been produced by the Department for Education.
Although intended for educational buildings, this advice is generally relevant to all buildings: When the presence of RAAC is confirmed, a structural assessment should be carried out. Assessment of RAAC is a highly specialised area within the structural engineering profession, and it is important to ensure that those providing structural engineering services are suitably qualified and can demonstrate an appropriate level of skill and experience. The Institution of Structural Engineers (www.istructe.org) is the main professional body for structural engineers in the UK, and maintains a register of engineers with experience of RAAC.
If not properly managed, RAAC planks are structural building components with safety implications. The Functional Standard GovS004 (6.3.4) requires Government organisations to maintain records of key components of building structures that could have implications for health and safety, and ensure that appropriate inspection regimes by competent people are in place.”
“Operational responsibility for RAAC remains with departments, their ALBs and the wider organisations. With this in mind, Property Leaders are requested to cascade this information to all relevant staff and suppliers and ensure the correct compliance measures and management actions are in place.”