A devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan on Saturday, February 6, killing a total of 116 and injuring many others. All but two of the deaths were caused by a collapse of the 17 story tall Weiguan Junlong (Golden Dragon) tower, the only high rise building to collapse in the city.
As crews have searched the area and initial investigations into the collapse have begun, they have discovered empty tin cans inside structural concrete beams. As crazy as that may sound, the reason those cans were there in the first place might be even crazier. A structural engineer told CNA, a Taiwan news channel, that, prior to 1999, use of cooking oil cans in concrete beams was actually not even illegal and were used to make the beams look bigger without adding much weight, for aesthetic reasons. Cooking oil cans. You read that right. The Golden Dragon tower was built in 1983, so the presence of the cans isn’t technically supposed to be a problem. Rebar was also found bent to 90 degrees, instead of 135 degrees, which increases the risk of the rebar loosening in the event of an earthquake.
However, on Wednesday, February 10, Taiwanese authorities did arrest the developer and two executives of the company that originally built the tower, even though the companies that built the structure are no longer in business. According to CNN, the three people arrested will face charges of professional negligence resulting in death.
The video below, by TomoNews US, gives a pretty good rundown of the factors that caused the collapse.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
According to the Workzonesafety.com, nearly half (46%) of all work zone-associated worker fatalities from 2003-2010 were caused by being struck by a vehicle. Surprisingly, only around 2% of those workers were killed by a drunk driver. From 2003 to 2015 (the last year this data was updated), a total of 1324 work zone fatalities have been recorded, which averages to about 102 per year.
Residents living near a Jersey City, New Jersey construction site were frightened as they watched “explosions” of smoke coming out of holes in the ground.
Portable toilets are the setting for many pranks around a construction site, but I never thought there could be something worse than just getting stuck in one. Turns out I was extremely wrong, because a worker in New Orleans was run over by a dump truck while using the port-a-john.
At last week’s National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorare of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2017, reports the National Safety Council.
As we saw after the Lake Oroville Dam in California collapsed earlier this year, dam failures can have sudden and devastating effects. Recent footage showing raging muddy waters swallowing a construction site in a matter of seconds has been shared after river dam in Thatom, Loas failed.
On Saturday, September 23, OSHA’s much talked about and controversial new Silica Dust Exposure Limit regulations went into effect. Late last week, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA, Thomas Galassi, released a memorandum that issues a 30 day “grace period” for compliance.
[guest post] Working in construction certainly has its upsides - you get in a great workout, you learn valuable skills, and you develop incredible camaraderie on the jobsite. However, it also is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have.
Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean and landed in South Florida a little over a week ago, sadly killing at least 50 people in Florida and causing plenty of property damage. High winds that accompanied the storm also caused the collapse of 3 construction cranes – two in Miami and one more in Fort Lauderdale. The crane in Fort Lauderdale was recently dismantled and the action was caught on video.