Construction Accidents

For more than 40 years, Exponent (formerly Failure Analysis Associates) has been investigating the causes of and solutions to virtually every imaginable problem related to construction. Our engineers have over 750 years of combined experience investigating what can go awry in the course of construction. If something goes wrong with your project, chances are that we have seen it before, and we are ready to help you minimize the costs and get your project back on track.

Heavy construction is an inherently hazardous industry. Although the Code of Federal Regulations (OSHA requirements) has mitigated some risks in the construction workplace, construction remains the second most dangerous work environment (second only to agriculture, and excluding highway fatalities). In the United States, there are about 1200 fatalities per year on construction sites (4 per 10,000 workers). Approximately one third of those are related to falling hazards1. In addition to fatalities and injuries, construction accidents have obvious economic consequences. It is estimated that about 6% of total construction costs are for repairing structural failures; soft costs from delays and business interruption are many times higher.

Construction accidents take many forms. The most common type of accident resulting in fatality or injury is falling to a lower level (about one-third of all construction-related accidents). Other common accidents include transportation-related accidents (1 in 4 fatalities), impacts and collapses (1 in 5), and electrocutions (1 in 10). Although the causes vary, responses to construction accidents often have common elements. Rescue and recovery of the victims is always of primary importance, and often requires engineering knowledge for stabilization and extraction. For this reason, FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams always include a structural engineer. After the victims have been cared for, the accident area is evaluated, and unsafe conditions, such as unstable debris or dangerous materials, are mitigated so that investigation and clearing of the site can proceed. Once the possible causes are identified, hazards related to other similar conditions at the site are mitigated, and appropriate repairs are engineered and implemented.

An important aspect of the response is preservation of key evidence so that the investigation can continue after the construction has resumed. Evidence preservation can include photographic and/or photogrammetric documentation of the site and preservation of the materials or components involved in the accident. Preserved materials may then be sampled for laboratory testing to determine whether material or construction defects contributed. Often the desire to resume construction as soon as possible conflicts with the desire to preserve the accident conditions until all parties are satisfied with their investigation. Parties with any potential liability should have access to the evidence prior to its destruction.

Services

For more than 40 years, Exponent (formerly Failure Analysis Associates) has been investigating the causes of and solutions to virtually every imaginable problem related to construction. Our engineers have over 750 years of combined experience investigating what can go awry in the course of construction. If something goes wrong with your project, chances are that we have seen it before, and we are ready to help you minimize the costs and get your project back on track.

Exponent brings the highest level of structural, mechanical, and geotechnical engineering to determine the cause of the accident, the nature and extent of damage, and the most appropriate repair. We have been engaged by contractors, owners, design engineers, insurers, and counsel. In addition, Exponent’s construction consultants can provide solutions for managing the project schedule, costs, and claims through difficult times.

Our services include:


  • Stabilization of debris
  • Identification, recovery, and preservation of key physical evidence that will help investigators determine the cause of the failure
  • Quick and thorough documentation of the failure site, so that it can be repaired or cleared and the project can continue
  • Chain-of-custody control and documentation to preserve the integrity of the evidence should it be required in the courtroom
  • Design of appropriate repairs and project management consultation to get your project back on track 

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1 http://www.bls.gov/opub/cwc/sh20060519ar01p1.htm

Professionals