The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 94 (2016) > Issue 11 > Managing Health & Safety Risks (No. 56): Impact of degradation on the safety of structures
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Managing Health & Safety Risks (No. 56): Impact of degradation on the safety of structures

Structures degrade with time, typically as a result of the environment they are in. That degradation can have safety implications, since strength predictions by calculation are only valid if the assumptions about component size and strength remain constant; in fact, both properties typically reduce with time. Hence, “safe design” demands that attention is paid to durability.

This article provides a brief summary of the impact of the most common forms of degradation on the safety of structures. This is illustrated by examples of where deterioration has caused collapse.

The article ends with a discussion of what structural engineers can do to minimise the risks of deterioration in new structures and the implications for the assessment of degraded structures.

Author(s): The Institution of Structural Engineers' Health and Safety Panel