2016 has been a tough year for people that live in ocean-near luxury high rise condos. The Millennium Tower in San Francisco, California, which is home to many of the city’s rich and famous residents, has found itself in the middle of several lawsuits after it was determined to have sunk around 16 inches since its opening in 2008. Now, it appears that it’s not the only luxury tower in America with foundation issues.
Plaza Harbour Island is a 20-story, 144-unit luxury condo tower in Tampa Bay, Florida. After originally opening its doors to residents in 2007, the residents have allegedly dealt with a variety of issues at the property and have since filed a lawsuit. The Tampa Bay Times (referred to as “The Times” going forward) reported that the geotechnical report found very soft and unstable soils were beneath the property, much like the San Francisco Tower. It’s unclear, at this point, what type of foundations were used to support the structure, but, according to the Times, visible exterior cracking is a sign of “significant subsidence concerns and structural design deficiencies.''
photo above shows the Plaza Harbour Island, via Instagram
Two years ago, in November of 2014, the Times explains, foundation repairs were made to the townhouse area of the property. After the repair work was completed, a Tampa Bay law firm alerted several companies of “certain design and construction defects.” Property values have reportedly plummeted since the issues were found, because owners are now required to disclose the conditions to potential buyers. In a tower that contains units that were sold for more than $2 million, it’s understandable that a lawsuit was filed.
Unit owners in Florida generally have a 3-year window after completion of construction in which to bring claims relating to the fitness of work performed by contractors and subcontractors on a project. This same warranty from the developer runs for 3 years after completion of the building or 1 year after control of the association has been transferred to the unit owners, whichever occurs last. But this period cannot exceed 5 years. The construction experts at TheLienZone lay all this out in their article, Who’s at Fault, showing that unit owners also have the possibility of raising negligence claims with a longer statute of limitations against the design professionals. And of course, if a defect is considered latent, this could extend the amount of time available for unit owners to lodge their claims.
There’s a lot at stake here and at least in Florida there may be a number of avenues for the unit owners to pursue.
Full Story: Is one of Tampa Bay's premier condo towers sinking? | Tampa Bay Times
Tool box safety talks are super important, but sometimes they can be pretty dry. In order to keep people engaged and committed to jobsite safety, sometimes you have to mix it up a little bit. A construction company in New Zealand has an aspiring rapper on their team and they decided to enlist his help for a safety talk and it’s pretty entertaining. This company isn’t the first company to use rap music to send a message, as Caterpillar also released a rap about their bulldozers.
Communication is key to a safe and productive construction environment. One of the biggest challenges of effective communication on job sites is the complexity and size of the project, which inhibits being able to contact the correct people in a timely manner. Tracking devices have been a hot button issue in construction news for the last few years. Some examples include RFID tag sensors in hard hats, such as the one being used on certain job sites in Washington DC and time sheet applications, which allow employers to track their employee’s locations using the GPS on their phone’s or tablets.
Construction crews in Parma, Idaho were busy working onmulti-story onion shed, when the under construction structure collapsed, sending some that were on the roof down with it. 14 crew members were either on the structure or around it at the time of collapse, but 6 of them were transported to the hospital. First responders on the scene explained that it was lucky that only 6 were injured.
For decades, hard hats have been synonymous with construction job site safety. Their one major flaw, however, is that if workers fall, the hard hat rarely stays on their head, exposing them to possible head injuries resulting from the fall. According to Bloomberg News, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) launched research campaign to determine their effectiveness in protecting against head and neck injuries. Their findings have not yet been released, but companies have begun to seek out new products, in hopes of reducing injuries.
You may remember a story we shared at the end of June about a rescue of a construction worker who was dangling from a suspended scaffold 15 stories in the air. The Sarasota County Fire Department completed a very skilled rescue, in which one firefighter scaled down the side of the building to the trapped worker, attached him to a harness, and both men were hoisted back up to the roof. The cause of that failure was a snapped line. At that time, the fire chief mentioned that he rarely sees events like this and that only 5 or 6 rescues like this have happened in his 29 year career.
OSHA currently controls over 20 laws that protect workers who file safety complaints against their employer or other employees. In general, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation from their employer.
In January of this year, tragedy struck a Florida construction company when 3 construction workers died while working underground below a newly paved road. After the first worker entered the hole and collapsed after entering the confined space through a manhole, the second went in to rescue him and also collapsed, followed by the third. After a post-incident investigation, OSHA has released their findings, as well as several fines.
In late June, OSHA pushed the enforcement of their 2016 rule which will require employers to electronically submit injury and illness reports from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017. At that time it was unknown when the administration would launch the platform to submit the data online, but that has now been decided.
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
As recently highlighted by several multi-story building fires, contractors should always be prepared in the event a fire starts on a job site. There have been dozens multi-story building fires in the past few years and many were started when the building was topped out. In most cases, the project was completely destroyed, leaving developers and owners to deal with years of delays from insurance claims. A massive five-alarm fire at an Oakland construction site is one of the more recent examples.