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Temporary structures and temporary accommodation units

Hazard Knowledge

Temporary structures

There are various types of temporary structures that may present hazards due to their construction, instability or internal layout. They may be constructed from untraditional materials.

Refer to the Building Research Establishment knowledge sheets for further information about the construction of demountable structures.

Types of temporary structures include:

  • Seating stands
  • Stages
  • Lighting and audio rigs
  • Temporary accommodation units (TAUs), including portable cabins and shipping (ISO) containers
  • Tents and marquees
  • Air-filled structures
  • Fairgrounds

The nature of temporary structures means that their use is difficult to regulate or monitor. They are frequently used for more than their intended purpose and are often adapted. This can result in additional hazards for personnel, especially if information about their use, layout and what is stored within them is lacking. It is likely that information regarding temporary structures will not be included in Site-Specific Risk Information (SSRI).

Some lightweight structures, such as marquees and inflatable structures, may become unstable and move across significant distances in high winds if not anchored appropriately.

Temporary accommodation units

Temporary accommodation units (TAUs) can be used to provide

  • Offices
  • Canteens
  • Welfare facilities
  • Storage solutions
  • Temporary residences
  • Sleeping accommodation for on-site staff

TAUs can vary from very simple single mobile units to complex multi-storey composite units. TAUs are usually situated in the open air, but can be located inside buildings or other structures. They may be left in one location, or relocated when required.

TAUs typically comprise modular units, whether constructed as portable cabins, ISO containers, mobile homes or other purpose-built structures. TAUs may come equipped with separate power and heating which may need to be isolated separately to the main building. Liquid petroleum gas may be used for cooking and heating water; this could include large bullets or storage tanks or smaller canisters.

Due to the temporary nature of the structures they may not be subject to the requirements of building regulations. Normal fire safety provisions, as found in typical offices and associated accommodation, may not be provided by the structure itself.

Further information about some types of temporary structures can be found in the Building Research Establishment supplementary information.