February 19, 1997
(Works, Services and Transportation)
Government recommends inspections of open web
Julie Bettney, Minister of Works, Services and Transportation,
and Ernest McLean, Minister of Government Services and Lands,
said today the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador strongly
recommends structural assessments of all private buildings in the
province constructed prior to 1985 with roof or floor designs
using "open web steel joists."
"This public advisory stems from initiatives of the
Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, and an
ongoing assessment of public buildings and schools initiated by
my department," Ms. Bettney said.
Mr. McLean said: "Government Service Centres will serve
as the first point of contact for the general public or building
owners who have enquiries about the issue, along with information
an avenues for inspection of private structures."
Additionally, enquiries regarding individual schools should be
directed to the appropriate school board.
In November of 1995, APEGN approached government with
questions on the integrity of "open web steel joists"
made by Robb Engineering of Amherst, Nova Scotia and since that
time government and the engineering community have been engaged
in a substantial endeavour to determine the extent and nature of
"While government has undertaken inspections of buildings
in its inventory, APEGN has contacted owners of private buildings
which are known to have to have Robb joists to advise them of
possible faulty welding," Ms. Bettney said.
Government is confident its ongoing inspection plan will
identify and resolve any problems in its structures, and combined
with APEGN's contacts of private building owners in the province,
the majority of structures featuring Robb joists have been
Ms. Bettney said: "The underlying reason in issuing a
public advisory is to ensure all buildings in the province which
may have these joists are identified and assessed.
"There is a possibility that some structures may have
been missed, given the amount of private construction carried out
in the province, and I recommend that all building owners have
their properties assessed to see if they contain Robb open web
steel joists in their roof or floor designs.
"Government's building review has been a monumental
effort in detection, given APEGN's original concern and a 1,000
building inventory to assess. As a precaution, Denominational
Education Councils were advised of the issue, along with managers
of buildings owned and operated by the Department of Works,
Services and Transportation."
"Preliminary inspections of a sample of public buildings
last spring failed to reveal any major joist deficiencies,"
the minister says. "However, government established an open
web steel joist task force in the fall which carried out more
conclusive testing and analysis, ultimately confirming the
problem reported by APEGN."
In the meantime, a precautionary directive on floor loading
and the removal of snow from the roofs of schools and public
buildings was issued. Government is confident that an adequate
level of safety can be provided if theses recomendations are
In December of 1996 following the assessment of the public
building inventory, five consultants were selected to perform an
extensive joist inspection program and take action to effect
repairs where necessary.
Municipalities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador will also
be provided with information on the Robb joist issue as a further
avenue of assistance to building owners throughout the province.
"We are effectively managing any problems with public
buildings under our jurisdiction, doing repairs where necessary.
In conjunction with Memorial University's engineering department
we will carry out further testing to ensure the reliability of
public structures which have these joists," Ms. Betteny
The issue is being taken very seriously by government and the
engineering community and building owners should be vigilant
regarding snow and occupant loading of their structures until the
joists are deemed safe.
Contact: Doug Burgess, Director of Communications, (709)
- Weldon Moores, P. Eng.
Director of Support Services
5 Mews Place
P.O. Box 8700
Tel: (709) 729-3086
Fax: (709) 729-3980
- Guy Perry
2 Masonic Terrace
P.O. Box 1148
Tel: (709) 466-4060
Fax: (709) 466-4070
- Roger LeDrew
P.O. Box 2222
Tel: (709) 256-1426
Fax: (709) 256-1438
- Shawn Tetford
The Noton Building
P.O. Box 2006
1 Riverside Drive
Tel: (709) 637-2204
Fax: (709) 637-2681
Happy Valley-Goose Bay
- Darryl Johnson
P.O. Box 3014, Station "B"
13 Churchill Street
Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Tel: (709) 896-5709
Fax: (709) 896-4340