The construction industry has always been one of the most dangerous and deadly professions. No matter how many laws, rules, and regulations have been put in place to prevent construction accidents, they still occur and shock us every time.
These accidents are all unique. Some are caused by human error, and others simply by nature. Some happen quickly in the blink of an eye, and others may take years to slowly develop.
Below are four of the most notable construction accidents that have occurred in United States history.
In 1978, one of the worst industrial accidents occurred during the construction of a cooling tower at the Willow Island Power Station in Willow Island, West Virginia. During construction, scaffolding built around the cooling tower collapsed, with 51 of the workers perishing in the fall.
Investigators determined that human error and short cuts during construction caused the scaffolding to collapse. OSHA discovered the following shortcomings during their investigation.
- There was only one exit from the scaffolding, causing many workers to be trapped
- A concrete lifting system was created, without being reviewed by engineers
- There were missing bolts on the scaffolding
- Poor quality parts were used to build the scaffolding
While the accident was unfortunately avoidable, it led to many new safety regulations within the energy construction industry.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
On April 20th, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leaking millions of barrels of oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.
Federal investigators and BP engineers found numerous flaws in the rig’s safety systems. The investigation discovered that faulty cement used in the walls of the well failed and led to a massive blowout.
The negative effects of the accident on the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico was devastating. It will still be years, if not decades, before the full consequences of the oil spill will be realized and understood.
Miller Park Crane Collapse
Miller Park, the current home of the Major League Baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, suffered a major crane collapse during construction in 1999, killing three construction workers.
Miller Park is one of the few stadiums in the world with a fan-shaped retractable roof. Due to the unusual shape of the roof, one of the largest cranes in the world, a Lampson Transi-lift 3 crane, nicknamed “Big Blue,” collapsed while lifting a 450-ton section of the retractable roof.
The crane was only rated to be safely operated in winds of 20 miles-per-hour or less. While lifting the 450-ton roof section, wind gusts of up to 27 miles per hour caused the crane to collapse.
Construction incidents on the Hoover Dam are a little different than the other accidents on this list. While 112 deaths and even more injuries and illnesses occurred during the construction of the dam, they happened slowly over time. Deaths and injuries occurred from flash flooding, falls, and pneumonia.
There was one major contribution to deaths during construction: Carbon monoxide poisoning. Those working on parts of the damn were subject to working in tunnels with gas-powered machinery that filled the working spaces with poisonous gases and heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid claims, the insurance company ruled that many of these deaths were due to natural causes from pneumonia.
It is impossible to prevent 100% of construction accidents, and there is no way to predict when they will happen with complete certainty. It is crucial to follow all rules and regulations to keep yourself safe. However, if you have been a construction accident victim, it is important to fully understand your legal rights. Contact a construction accident lawyer for a free consultation.