Reporting precursor events in the bridges sector: New partnership launched between BOF, UKBB, ICE and CROSS-UK.

1st May 2024

Bridge collapses around the world happen with alarming regularity. In the 21st Century alone, there have been 66 reported fatal collapses claiming over 1200 lives. What is often not reported, however, are the near misses, close calls, and precursor events. If these precursors can be recognised, they are vitally important to forecasting and preventing more serious incidents in the future.

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For bridges, examples of precursors could include the unexpected failure of a bridge element, including structural support to bearings, joints, and parapets, structural cracking which appears or reopens after repair, or other symptoms of distress which cannot be explained. 

The UK Bridges Board (UKBB), the Bridge Owners Forum (BOF) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) have come together to highlight the importance of precursor events and encourage those in the bridges sector to report to CROSS-UK. 

CROSS, which stands for Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures, is the unique, voluntary occurrence safety reporting scheme jointly owned by the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers. 

The scheme allows professionals to report precursor events and safety issues confidentially - reflecting best practice originally established in the aviation industry. These reports, and their key learning outcomes, are anonymised, commented upon by experts to help others, and shared to disseminate knowledge and help prevent future safety failures.

Making a report to CROSS is simple. Read more about the short process and submit a report online by visiting

Richard Fish, Technical Secretary, Bridge Owners Forum said: 

“Throughout history, engineers have learned from mistakes and there are many examples of improved engineering knowledge being derived from bridge collapses. Such lessons, however, can only ever be learned if experiences are shared and then distributed in a publicly available report. 
This partnership aims to highlight the voluntary mechanism through which that sharing can happen. CROSS is a hugely valuable tool for the bridges sector.”

Dr Hazel McDonald, Chair, UK Bridges Board said:

“It is important to learn from your mistakes.  However, in engineering and construction, it is far better to learn from the mistakes of others. By establishing this partnership, the UK Bridges Board are facilitating the sharing of best practice in the design and management of bridges. 
We strongly encourage bridge owners, managers and all those working in the sector to confidentially submit reports to CROSS.”

Dr Alastair Soane, Principal Consultant - Structures, CROSS said:

“CROSS is a community of professionals who share safety information and learn from each other’s experiences. We promote an open, collaborative, no-blame culture. We’re pleased to be working with BOF and the UKBB and thank them for the vital leadership role they are taking within the bridges sector.”

Mark Hansford, Director of Engineering Knowledge, ICE said:

“Bridges and other highway structures are crucial parts of our transport networks. The ICE has been a joint owner of CROSS since its inception, and we welcome this endorsement from BOF and UKBB. The information shared as a result of this partnership, will be an important element in helping create safer infrastructure.”

The partnership has subsequently been endorsed by the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG). 
Jason Tucker, Chair, Infrastructure Client Group said:

“The ICG is committed to fostering collaboration and sharing amongst those developing and delivering the UK’s infrastructure. This partnership highlights one key mechanism by which that sharing can happen. We endorse this initiative, and look forward to supporting BOF, CROSS, UKBB and ICE in accelerating the improvement of our vital world of infrastructure and making a positive difference.”
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