Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC): Management Sub-group minutes – April 2024

Minutes from the meeting held on 24 April 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government  
  • NHS Scotland Assure
  • The Association of the University Directors of Estates 
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)
  • Scottish Heads of Property Services (SHoPs) 
  • Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)
  • Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
  • Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)

Items and actions

Minute of previous meeting, actions arising 

The meeting approved the minutes of the previous meeting. The following updates on actions were provided:

Action point 2.1

There have been discussions with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on issues that affect properties in conservation areas and/or have listed building status. HES have provided information including links to relevant guidance which can be circulated to the group. HES have stated that they are happy to be contacted regarding the presence of RAAC in listed buildings.  

Action point 2.2 

Information on RAAC found in social housing Aberdeen City Council area can be found here: RAAC Housing | Aberdeen City Council.  

Action point 2.3

The IStructE presentation would be shared with the group via Objective Connect. 

Action point 2.4

Structural engineer details were noted with a view to an invitation to a future meeting. 

IStructE Presentation

  • summary of IStructE involvement with RAAC including research work with Loughborough University in September 2023 and publication of guidance documents for investigation and assessment
  • RAAC is still widely used in Europe
  • department for Education (DfE) announcement in August 2023 was specific to DfE and didn't affect the validity of IStructE guidance
  • guidance on risk factors associated with RAAC introduced in April 2023 
  • IStructE are working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) including on risk guidance – would welcome input from Scottish authorities 
  • recommended that RAAC is assessed by chartered or incorporated engineers that have relevant experience. This aligns with Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) guidance for surveyors 
  • the Construction Leadership Council's expert panel have put together procedures for monitoring risk including manual techniques – MTC will talk about automating that process later
  • in discussion with MTC on Non Destructive Testing 
  • on demand Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for engineers, considers remedial solutions from propping through to replacement. MTC looking to ‘industrialise’
  • as more RAAC is found, would recommend that the information is used to build a database of discovery and response

Issues raised in discussion 

  • further guidance from IStructE is planned – including on end bearings and on approach to risk (with HSE) the latter being relevant to the Building Safety Act. Research is subject to funding with the study group being unfunded and dependent on expert volunteers
  • noted that information on RAAC in the private sector was limited – and can be commercially sensitive  

MTC update

Phase 1 work 

  • programme to support RAAC reporting and collate evidence on RAAC as it exists at present – as well as to understand how Non Destructive Testing can be applied to RAAC
  • presented findings and received useful feedback at event in March 
  • main output will be the ‘playbook’ (first draft likely end May/beginning June) - collating evidence and summarising outputs of work
  • topics including NDT, autonomous NDT, digital assessment tool work package 
  • look to build on initial publication and cover living with RAAC 
  • noted need for clarity around data on RAAC  
  • potential for national database and possible use of AI to support reporting and collation
  • identify, assess, manage and reassure – understand need for consistent description of stages – replace/repair/reinforce
  • looking at manufacturing solutions and work around supply chains 

Phase 2 work

  • still in active dialogue with funders for Phase 2; possibly via Innovate UK route, currently updating business case 
  • areas in need of research include longevity and residual life of RAAC panels in given situations
  • key messages around living with and managing RAAC, which itself is not bad 
  • aim to facilitate onward journey and sharing of knowledge and best practice across the public and private sector – adopting agile solutions approach
  • development of standardised methodologies for assessment, effective and consistent data gathering and reporting
  • data driven analytical remediation and management strategy – understanding the composition and longevity of RAAC; what is anticipated ‘safe life’; understanding the risk profile
  • investigating more cost effective / value added solutions to scale up remediation work
  • establishing a large enough network of qualified professionals who can manage RAAC along with providing useful resources to inform and educate those with an active interest in RAAC 
  • big agenda with government around better data-drive decisions beyond RAAC (one part of broader dilapidation in the built environment)
  • welcome any support from attendees for a coordinated programme of work

Issues raised in discussion 

  • additional complexity of the private sector, potential of reputational damage and disruption of economic activity; MTC pushing for public investment to drive action and coordination 
  • NHS Scotland Assure, with WSP, has almost assessed every building, moving onto detailed surveys; buildings generally in good condition, some remediation needed; positive that information on bearings would be in the playbook
  • important to understand the risks and changes that can affect risk
  • suggestion to spread the capacity of the industry to respond, not always need of input from engineers, surveying and data collection can be by other suitably qualified people but assessment by competent engineers
  • possible role for the sub-group to help with gathering of data and reporting back to IStructE and MTC
  • interest in how decisions are arrived at in given circumstances following identification and assessment of risk
  • benefit of everyone in the useful sharing of information

Any other business

No items were raised.

Date of next meeting 

The date of the next meeting is to be confirmed. 

Actions arising from the meeting 

Action point 3.1

Circulate IStructE presentation        

Action point 3.2    

Circulate MTC slides         

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