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Pre-cast tilt up and concrete elements

Guidance for employers on the typical roles and responsibilities associated with the design and erection of precast and tilt-up concrete elements or panels.

The construction of buildings and structures using precast or tilt-up concrete elements or panels can be a complicated process involving a range of employers and other persons.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act), employers have a general duty to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

An employer may fail to meet their general duty if they do not provide systems of work for the erection of precast or tilt-up concrete elements or panels that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

Risks associated with precast and tilt-up concrete construction include employees or the public being struck or crushed by falling concrete elements, for example:

  • if elements fail while being lifted or erected.
  • if elements collapse once erected due to poorly designed, installed or maintained temporary bracing systems, or premature removal of temporary bracing systems.

A suitably competent person, such as an engineer with experience in such matters, should be engaged to develop a safe system of work for the erection of precast or tilt-up concrete elements or panels. This person is referred to as the erection design engineer (EDE).

Whilst the builder or principle contractor may not always directly engage the EDE, both the builder and erector should ensure that a suitably competent person(s) is engaged and has undertaken the relevant functions of the EDE before erection works commence.

The EDE should formulate a system of work (erection design) that includes ensuring that elements,

panels, inserts, panel braces, and supporting structures are able to resist any potential static, dynamic and impact loads during:

  • removal of the element from the form or casting bed (suction loads);
  • handling and transportation (impact and dynamic loads)
  • erection (lifting/rotating/bracing loads)
  • temporary bracing (wind loads)
  • subsequent construction works (any loading of the element, panel, or bracing system due to the construction sequence e.g. concrete floor construction, partial roof installation).

In the absence of an EDE, the builder or principal contractor should not assume that the project design engineer (PDE), precaster, or erection crew have formulated the erection design.

The builder or principal contractor should confirm who is responsible for the various aspects of the design and erection of precast or tilt-up concrete elements or panels.

Note that while contractual arrangements may vary from project to project, the responsibilities outlined should all be undertaken.