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From OSHA, A Peek Behind the Probes

Friday, June 21, 2013

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Against the backdrop of a mounting number of deadly structural collapses, the federal government has just released extensive documentation of its investigations into several such disasters.

Analyses of deadly building collapses, structural failures, and other construction disasters are the focus on a new web page by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Construction Incidents Investigation Engineering Reports provides original investigations of selected structural collapses and other incidents conducted by OSHA's Directorate of Construction.

Created in the wake of several fatal building and structural collapses over the past year, the page aims to help employers, workers, construction engineers, project managers, and regulatory bodies identify problems in construction design, project management, and management of field engineering changes, according to OSHA.

Construction Accident
Photos: OSHA

A 51-page file details OSHA's investigation into the 2011 collapse of a 3,300-car parking garage under construction in San Antonio, TX.

"OSHA's hope is that the information provided will help reduce future incidents, fatalities and serious injuries," the agency announced.

What You'll Find

The site is not a comprehensive database of construction incidents investigated by OSHA—only eight investigations dating to 2003 had been posted as of Wednesday (June 19)—and not all of the case file is displayed. Some of the photographs, schematics, computations, tables, figures and other non-text items have been removed from the posted versions.

However, the text of each report is otherwise identical with the original document and a complete version of any of the reports is available by contacting the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020. The files include lab test results, key construction documents, project details and extensive technical information.

Many of the incidents described resulted in one or more worker fatalities, and most resulted in multimillion-dollar property loss, lawsuits, or settlements. Each investigation was performed at the request of an OSHA field office or state-run occupational safety and health agency as part of an enforcement inspection.

Industrial, Commercial Disasters

The files, which run to dozens of pages, offer a fascinating look at the little-seen documentation into an OSHA investigation.

OSHA montage

The site includes detailed information about investigations into (from left) a 2003 casino parking garage collapse, the 2011 collapse of a mobile crane at the Washington National Cathedral, and a 2012 building collapse in Brooklyn.

The initial files released range from a 2003 parking garage collapse in New Jersey that killed four workers to a 2012 building collapse in Brooklyn, NY, that killed one. Notably, the list also includes the collapse of a massive crane at the Washington National Cathedral in 2011.

The initial list of case files, as of Wednesday:


Tagged categories: Accidents; Building operations; Commercial Construction; Cranes; Enforcement; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Parking Garages; Work platform

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