The risks arising from failing to adhere to structural design and building regulations have been in focus recently, with construction giant Grocon charged in relation to the collapse of a wall on one of their building sites in Melbourne last year. As ABC News reported, three people died as a result of the brick wall toppling over in Melbourne’s Swanston Street in March 2013, which allegedly had signage inappropriately attached to it that made the wall unsafe in windy conditions. Aussie Signs was the subcontractor engaged to affix the signage to the wall, and appeared in court with Grocon representatives in late April this year to face criminal charges filed by WorkSafe Victoria for breaches under the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

This tragedy and the court action may have implications for event organisers of outdoor events where temporary fencing is used to install scrim or promotional materials that change the structural integrity of the temporary structure; and where such structures are exposed to wind action.

Under Australian work health and safety legislation in each state, event organisers and their contractors are all subject to a duty to mitigate safety risks to the public. The Building Code of Australia stipulates some requirements for wind speed tolerance in some temporary structures, however more detail is provided in AS/NZS 1170.0:2010 Structural design actions - Wind actions.

When procuring temporary fencing, it is always important to check with the supplier regarding anchoring systems if there are additional materials to be installed, and that the design of such materials will not compromise the safety and integrity of the structure. This is an important risk management strategy for minimising risks from wind for any temporary structure.