FIS Technical Director Joe Cilia responds to the news following the ceiling collapse at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

It was harrowing to read this week that a ceiling collapsed at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

The ceiling of an intensive care ward collapsed onto a patient on life support. Staff rushed to evacuate the 10-bed unit at the hospital and the local trust declared a major incident on Thursday morning as engineers carried out urgent safety checks and patients were moved to other wards.

These events thankfully are rare and can often be traced back to an issue with the hangers or fixings, poor maintenance and a lack of competence when access the void above a ceiling to maintain services.

The Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) has a number of guidance notes to help avoid failures and ensure the safety of everyone.

Top Fixings and Suspended Ceilings

This Best Practice Guide to the Selection and Installation of Top Fixings for Suspended Ceilings has been developed by FIS and the Construction Fixings Association (CFA), in conjunction with the Standing Committee on Structural-Safety (SCOSS) and other industry experts, as a guide to best practice on the choice, installation and testing of fixings for suspended ceilings.

Maintenance and Access into Suspended Ceilings

This Best Practice Guide to Maintenance and Access into Suspended Ceilings has been produced by FIS as a guide for building owners, facility managers and building services engineers who need to access the ceiling void. Suspended ceilings are installed in all aspects of commercial buildings and some residential accommodation in common parts. Their main function is to provide a clear membrane to hide services, and provide acoustic performance and in some instances fire protection.

Installation of Suspended Ceilings

This guide has been developed by FIS to promote best practice in the installation of suspended ceilings.

There are very few commercial building projects, new build or refurbishment, which do not have suspended ceilings as one of their key construction components. Usually representing the largest uninterrupted surface, they make a major contribution to the overall appearance and acoustic quality of the finished space.