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Structural safety in the Netherlands: a structural problem, HRO the solution

Bert Lankheet bert.g.h.lankheet@gmail.com University of Twente – Construction Management & Engineering


Collapse of the roof in the GrolschVeste stadium at Enschede (2011)

Floor collapse in the B-tower at Rotterdam (2011)

Collapse of balconies in apartment building Patio Sevilla at Maastricht (2003)

Collapse of gallery of the Antillenbuilding at Leeuwarden (2011)

An estimated amount of 20.000 construction failures a year, costing €50.000 on average, but more important lead to personal tragedies


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Structural safety incidents reported in the Cobouw newspaper (Terwel, 2012)


Increasing complexity ▪ Fragmentation

Decrease in craftsmanship

Culture of the construction sector


Mainly focussed on (direct) techical causes for instance ISO 9000…,

but…


…only relieving symptoms

Swiss cheese model of defense mechanisms (Ale, 2011)


Clients should enforce high reliable ways of working in order to avoid personal drama’s and hence high costs. Research into 15 projects showed that clients have a great deal of influence on structural safety. (VROM Inspectie, 2008

This is the only way to cope with increasing risks.


Back to a strong focus on structural safety in all phases of the process (i.e. feasibility, design, tendering, construction, completion)  Reward safe and reliable behavior, fine unsafe behavior  Treat structural engineer accordingly, deference to expertise  Report and investigate irregularities  Align goals of parties involved in meetings, contracts etc., i.e.

structural safety is top priority  Base evaluation on safety record of organizations  Establish rules for using subcontractors


Structural safety is essential for a construction however it is not obvious, thus it deserves attention and resources. Safety is not in systems it is in people. Systems deal with safety implicitly, people explicitly.


Managing for safety leads to quality. See Terminal 5 project (BAA Heathrow, 2008).

See APM Terminal project (TigeR vof, 2012).

Safety should not be a requirement, it is the basis to start from.


Making mistakes is people’s own, preventing accidents is a people’s job.

Bert Lankheet bert.g.h.lankheet@gmail.com University of Twente – Construction Management & Engineering

High Reliable Organizing for Structural Safety  

How to prevent from collapse accidents, and hampering structural safety.