Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Construction Related Losses

Case Study: Fatality Servicing Unsupported Excavator Boom

A mini-excavator at a job site developed a leak at a hydraulic fitting at the base of the cylinder that raises and lowers the boom. A subcontractor foreman at the site raised the boom to search for the leak. The foreman found and attempted to tighten the leaking fitting. When he did, the fitting separated from the base of the cylinder, releasing the hydraulic pressure that held the boom aloft. The boom fell and the bucket struck a nearby superintendent for the general contractor.

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Gas Appliance testing lab

Testing As Part of Gas Applicance Incident Investigation

Author

Equipment and appliances supplied with fuel gases like natural gas, propane and butane are a common and convenient part of most of our lives.  Such devices as gas grills and ranges, ovens, furnaces, space heaters and water heaters usually perform without incident.  However, when they malfunction the potential for incidents such as fires and explosions, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and burn injuries may occur. These incidents may be due to design and manufacturing defects in the product, or improper installation or operation of the device.

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A close-up view of the steel column.

Timber – Falling Beam Strikes Worker

As an experienced safety consultant, I have investigated many serious injuries and deaths at construction sites over the past 39 years. The United States Department of Labor reports that the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is highest of all industries in the nation. Out of 4,386 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2014, 899 or 20.5% were in construction i.e., one in five worker deaths were in construction. Read More

Warren engineers,   John Holecek and Aron Olson working with new fall protection equipment.

Not Falling for Your Job?

Periodically, Warren Engineers and Consultants are asked to perform inspections that require work at raised elevations. Typical jobs and tasks include climbing on commercial and residential roofs with steep pitches, working on scaffolding, climbing from one level to the next at a fire or industrial loss scene, riding in the buckets of lift equipment, and inspecting exterior structural elements such as windows and masonry.  Read More

Who Else Owns This Construction Loss Course

When a worker is badly injured on a construction site, adjusters or investigators are often hired to determine pursuit or defense of a subrogation case.  This slideshow gives an overview of several real-world investigations and helps viewers understand some of the issues involved in construction related subrogatable incidents. Read More

Roof drain with membrane installed in opening.

Water Intrusion/Moisture Issues – Finding the Source and Location

Author

What you see is not always what you get.  This commonality exists in the numerous cases I have investigated for water intrusion and moisture issues in buildings.  The source that appears most obvious and straightforward may not, in fact, be the root of the problem at all. Read More

Foundation issues

Identifying Foundation Issues for Adjusters

Author

As a structural engineer, I am often called upon to determine the cause of commercial and residential building problems. Common problems I investigate include doors or windows that don’t open properly, cracks in interior and exterior walls, gaps in the trim, leaking roofs when the exterior covering is otherwise in good condition, sloped and out-of-level floors and leaning walls. Many of these problems are a direct result of foundation cracks, settlements and/or failures. Read More

Building Envelope Components

What is a Building Envelope?

Author

By definition, the building envelope (or building enclosure) is the physical separation between the interior conditioned areas and the exterior environment space of a building. The envelope serves as the outer covering (shell or skin) to help maintain the indoor environment together with the mechanical conditioning systems and to facilitate its climate control. The building envelope must be carefully designed with regard to site specific climate, ventilation, and energy consumption within the structure. The design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control. Read More

steel-decking

Metal Decking Provides for Building Stability and Worker Safety

Author

It’s simple, right?!  Buildings being constructed must maintain a structural stability at all times during the steel erection process. That’s according to OSHA Federal Register Subpart R 1926. OSHA also reminds us that “Since structural collapse is second only to falls as a cause of fatalities in the construction industry, stability is essential to the successful erection of any steel structure, including single- story, multi-story, bridges, etc.” Let’s further examine what goes into the erection and installation practice for roof or floor metal decking as a safe working platform. Read More

An overhead view of a building that lost its roof due to the weight of several inches of snow.

Snow/Ice Accumulation Leads to a Roof Collapse

Author

During the next several months when temperatures start to fall below the freezing point and winter storms packing cold temperatures, heavy snowfall and ice build-ups bear down on various regions of the country, they can and do bring an assortment of unfavorable conditions that could and will affect your insured’s buildings, businesses, and personnel. Some of these regions have already experienced record-breaking snowfalls and bitter cold temperatures, which in turn have increased the danger of roof or partial roof collapses. Roofs that are properly designed and constructed to applicable codes and standards should be built to withstand loading from snow, drifting snow, water-laden snow and ice build-ups. But are they? Building codes and standards that depict the proper roof loads will vary across the U.S.  They will generally be based on local historical data, including the expected frequency and intensity of these winter storms in a particular region as shown and discussed in ASCE 7-10. Read More

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