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Construction Stories
Construction Stories
Love them or leave them; but these real life incidents have a lot to teach us about the construction techniques and the problems that may occur if these are not followed properly.

S L Gupta (Civil Engg)
By S L Gupta (Civil Engg)
I am a civil engineering expert and I have been in the construction industry for almost 40 years. I have seen the industry grow from manual to hi-tech work techniques and currently I am working as a c...
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Centering and shuttering Consequences of not doing centering and shuttering properly!
  By:S L Gupta - On Monday, July 27,2009  -  22861 View(s)  -  16 Comment(s)

I have been in the construction industry for the last 40 years and so many new techniques have come up since I started but still if we fail to follow the principals during the execution of construction projects, a lot can go wrong.  In this channel, I’ll share some of the stories from my own experience in this industry.

Centering & Shuttering

Here I am highlighting one glaring incident that had taken place due to not doing centering and shuttering work properly and causing extensive damage not only to the work but to the life of people involved.

All this happened due to the ignorance, negligence and a desire to save some money by using less shuttering material  for vertical supports.  This episode is being cited to caution  the contractor ,carpenter doing work, owner  of the building and architect responsible for supervision.


Some where in December 2006 a huge work for laying  reinforced cement  concrete in beams and slab was under construction for a factory near Delhi . This work was private work and the owner of factory was doing construction through labour  contractor .


Ignorant Owner & no technical help

The owner was ignorant and did not know the method and safety  precautions to be taken during centering  and shuttering work which was done before laying cement concrete for beams and slab . It was not clearly known that someone architect  or any civil engineer for supervision was employed for the  job or not. The blame come to the contractor who did not arrange proper vertical support and the shuttering carpenter who was unskilled and have no experience about the work at the height 18’  from ground level .

Mistakes got punished gravely

It is certain that nature does not spare anyone if things are not done properly. It doesn’t matter if the person committing the fault is ignorant or negligent nor does it matter about the honestly, integrity and knowledge  of the people involved.

After completing shuttering  work , the black smith completed the bar binding work for beam and slab. The contractor started   the work of laying cement  concrete  beams and slab for the roof of factory shed with arrangement of adequate  mechanical mixture, vibrators ,  labour, mason, shuttering carpenter and  with necessary raw materials .After 2 or 3 hours of work the vertical supports  under the shuttering fell down at one point and  that lead to the collapse of the whole structure. The  accident  proved fatal for some and many others got injured .

The rescue effort was also flawed

The month in which work was done was mid December and darkness spread all around in early hours and there was no proper arrangement of light. Most of the labors had left the site and were not available for the rescue work.

When information reached in district headquarter then the department arranged the J.C.B. machine to remove mulba / collapsed  material from the site so that people trapped under the shuttering material could be saved .

That evening all efforts to remove collapsed material failed as M.S steel bars which were binding in beams slabs and had jointed with each other from one end to other end  in both direction could not be separated by the J.C.B. machine. The cement concrete laid before 6 to 8 hours started becoming hard and the shuttering material below M.S steel also created problems.

The rescue work continued the next morning with the help of  J.C.B. machine, more labour and gas cutter used this time. The steel bars were cut with gas cutter.  But the carpenter under the shuttering material could not be saved.

How  it happened
The roof slab of the factory shed was about 18 feet high from ground  level and the labour contractor and shuttering carpenter did some mistake either knowingly to save money or due to ignorance .

1. While doing shuttering for slab or beams they used wooden ballies of height 10 to 12 feet long for vertical support.
2. Far  attaining the height of 18 feet they had used 2 to  3 feet high dry brick pillar below the ballies  and then they placed the wooden plank  of 3 feet long on the top.of  the first set of ballies and then they used another balli  piece of 3 to 4 feet height on the wooden  plank to attain the required height  of 18 feet.
3. Then they fixed the wooden batten on top of the second set of ballies.
4. The ply wooden  sheet was then placed on top of the batten.
After  bending, binding  of M.S steel bars  the laying process of  cement concrete  started  and vertically supports  fell down and the whole shuttering structure collapsed one after the other.

What precautions should have been taken while doing centering and shuttering?
The episode happened for not taking precautions  and safety measure during centering  and shuttering .
1.  The centering and shuttering  for  height more than 15 feet should be done with  kribs.
2. If kribs are not available than iron pipes with adjustable height  can be used as vertical supports with wide base at bottom and top.
3. If one want to do the shuttering work with wooden ballies then the  shuttering should be done in two stages .
4. In this type of  shuttering one stage is done with the wooden ballies about 10 feet high and wooden planks should be laid by covering at list 50 to 60 % area of the  shuttering.
5. Second stage shuttering is done by giving load on first stage shuttering.
6. Cross bands with bamboos and ballies with vertical supports should be made in both stages .
7. Avoid dry brick pillar under the vertical supports .
8. Before starting cement concerrte laying process, temporary path with planks or bamboo zali should be made for  walking of labour while placing cement concrete at required spot. This will help in keeping  M.S. steel bars in proper position  .
9. Never allow labours to throw cement concrete pans on the shuttering at the time of laying but the cement concrete should be laid  gently with the help of peskar .
10. One shuttring carpenter with helper must be deputed with some ballies  of proper height under shuttering where work in progress  .
These type of incidents happen at many places in private and govt. work  but  the scale of damage in the incident mentioned above was very high.

Why it  happened:-
The  incident happened due to ignorance of importance and procedure of   shuttering as.
1. Shuttering was done without proper material.
2. Shuttering was done by employing unskilled , unexperienced  shuttering carpenter who did not know the job well.
3. Due to careless on the part of owner , contractor , shuttering carpenter and supervisor .as they all thought that nothing will happen as it is the daily  routine work

Did you enjoy this post? Please share it!
14 Comment(s)
12  >>
By Ariana : On Friday, October 18,2013
Hi are using WordPress for your site platform? I?m new to the blog world but I?m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!
By NADEEM KHAN : On Monday, March 26,2012
skilled workers save life and money while unskilled sink both
By Abdul kader : On Saturday, July 30,2011
Very good information
By sandeep : On Tuesday, December 21,2010
respected gupta ji
thanks for great tips
i am cunstucting house with basement at hisar .watertable is 3ft below the basement floor level . ihave done pillars fotting and 100mm pc all over the basement area .plz tell me the waterprofing solution for basement
By sheaikh mohd abid : On Sunday, February 7,2010
you are great...
By mkd : On Monday, January 18,2010
Good information to share and thanks to Gupta ji, i am also now planning to go for house Roof-Shuntring on Next Week (26-11-10) construction. this information is practical and valuable.Because read this artical I am affried Because my Shuntring Person is not proper fully trained & not Proper full stock shuntring material.
once again thanks to and associates
of this website developers. thanks.
By Kannan : On Sunday, November 1,2009
Dear Guptaji,

It was great.
By Pritam Tandukar : On Sunday, September 6,2009
I'm extremely sorry to give you thanks. Thank you.
By Pritam Tandukar : On Sunday, September 6,2009
Your work is praiseworthy but I need daily routine vaastushastra. Like which day should I buy shoes, which day I should buy clothes. What is the shubha muhurta for starting new work & way of starting new work. Like hanging chilly & lemon or sqeezing it by the tyre of newly buyed vehicle
By param : On Wednesday, November 26,2008
yes really good information to share and thanks to Gupta ji, i am also now planning to go for house construction. this information is practical and valuable.
once again thanks to and associates
of this website developers. thanks.
12  >>
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