15/07/2016 17:07 HRS

The 1 September marks the deadline by which theatre owners should have had their suspended plaster ceilings inspected by a specialist to ensure that they are safe. The new guidance follows the collapse of the Apollo Theatre ceiling in 2013. Details of survey requirements can be found on the ABTT website: ABTT Guidance Note 20.

Example of  failed hessian wadding.

Example of failed hessian wadding.

Mr Melvin Sandell, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Entertainments, made the following statement to theatre owners:

I will be writing to all local authorities shortly after 1 September to explain that theatres with suspended plaster ceilings should be able to provide evidence that their ceiling has been completely inspected by a competent person and explain how that competence was determined. If by the 1st September you will not yet be able to do this I recommend you contact your local authority as soon as possible to explain what you are doing to ensure the safety of your ceiling and agree the date by which you will have completed an appropriate inspection.”

The hazards which can exist with suspended plaster ceilings are not limited to theatres or places of entertainment but will be present in any building with this type of construction. For any premises with suspended plaster ceilings appropriate surveys should be undertaken.

If anyone has any queries about the required survey work for suspended plaster ceilings in theatres and places of entertainment please contact either Claire Appleby at the Theatres Trust or Robin Townley at the ABTT.

For guidance on establishing the competence of inspectors and plaster work contractors pleases refer to the Finishes & Interiors Sector (FIS) website section on Heritage Buildings.