February 19, 1997
(Works, Services and Transportation)

Government recommends inspections of open web steel joists

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 any problem.

"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 identified.

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 followed.

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 said.

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) 729-1968.

Regional contacts:

St. John's

  • Weldon Moores, P. Eng.
    Director of Support Services
    5 Mews Place
    P.O. Box 8700
    St. John's
    A1B 4J6
    Tel: (709) 729-3086
    Fax: (709) 729-3980


  • Guy Perry
    Regional Director
    2 Masonic Terrace
    P.O. Box 1148
    AOE 1JO
    Tel: (709) 466-4060
    Fax: (709) 466-4070


  • Roger LeDrew
    Regional Director
    McCurdy Complex
    P.O. Box 2222
    A1V 2N9
    Tel: (709) 256-1426
    Fax: (709) 256-1438

Corner Brook

  • Shawn Tetford
    Regional Director
    The Noton Building
    P.O. Box 2006
    1 Riverside Drive
    Corner Brook
    A2H 6J8
    Tel: (709) 637-2204
    Fax: (709) 637-2681

Happy Valley-Goose Bay

  • Darryl Johnson
    Regional Director
    P.O. Box 3014, Station "B"
    13 Churchill Street
    Happy Valley-Goose Bay
    AOP 1EO
    Tel: (709) 896-5709
    Fax: (709) 896-4340
1997 02 19 4:35 p.m.

SearchHomeBack to GovernmentContact Us

All material copyright the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. No unauthorized copying or redeployment permitted. The Government assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of any material deployed on an unauthorized server.
Disclaimer/Copyright/Privacy Statement