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.
Last November, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced felonious assault charges against a contractor’s superintendent and a manufacturer’s branch manager after two men suffered horrific injuries on a New York jobsite. Last week, OSHA formally announced citations against the St. Louis, Missouri based contractor.
After an uptick in construction industry fatalities in 2016, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that both the amount of construction worker deaths and the rate of fatality dropped in 2017.
At the National Safety Council Congress & Expo on October 23, 2018, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2018.
On March 15, 2018, 6 people were killed and 8 others were injured when an under construction pedestrian bridge collapsed in Florida. Several months later, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their preliminary report while conducting an official investigation. The NTSB later issued an “Investigative Update” to their preliminary report in August. In Mid-November, the NTSB released a 2nd investigative update, narrowing their root cause theories.
The City of New York is getting serious about construction regulation and using the full extent of the law to punish those who have acted negligently on the jobsite. Last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio issued a new law requiring all construction workers to undergo, at minimum, 40 hours of safety training. In 2016, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. successfully convicted a construction foreman of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment after a laborer was killed in a trench collapse that he was overseeing. Earlier this month, DA Vance announced assault charges against a superintendent and branch manager after 2 men suffer horrific injuries on their jobsite.
The long delayed rule for crane operator certification has new life as OSHA has issued yet another final rule, after making alterations and clarifications. OSHA originally planned to require all crane operators to obtain certifications in 2010, but it has been delayed several times since then. A different final rule was proposed in 2017, but it was announced in May of 2018 that the administration intended to alter the rule.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of 3 different drills manufactured by Black & Decker due to safety concerns.
Just over a year ago, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Miami, Florida, bringing extremely high speed wind with it. The wind caused 3 cranes to collapse in southern Florida, 2 in downtown Miami and 1 more in Ft. Lauderdale. Interesting video of the dismantling of one of the failed cranes was shared on Youtube.
In September of 2017, OSHA’s new standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica went into effect in the construction industry. The rule lowered the allowable exposure to the harmful substance to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, a measurement that we’re all familiar with [/sarcasm]. After a full year of enforcement, OSHA is considering making a change to the rule.