An analysis by engineers has found that nearby excavation and the continuous vibration of construction vehicles were the likely causes of a building collapse in August. The construction accident took place on August 27th when a building in Albany’s Washington Park Historic District began to crumble and sent construction workers, and at least one elderly resident, scrambling for their lives. There were no major injuries reported to have been caused by the collapse.
Immediately after the accident, suspicions arose that construction work going on next door was responsible for the accident. Immediately next door to the building that had collapsed, construction workers had been using heavy machinery to excavate for the construction of a new apartment building.
The report of the engineers investigating the building collapse concluded that the nearby excavation had gone too deep and too close to the existing building. The excessive vibrations from the construction machinery subsequently caused the building’s foundation to fail.
According to some, the accident may have been avoided if the excavation was done in stages rather than excavating the entire site for the new construction. The Director of Building and Codes, Nicholas DiLello, indicated that the responsibility for planning and overseeing the excavation fell to the builder’s engineer. While the necessity to conduct the excavation in stages may look obvious in hindsight, DiLello also indicated that doing so is not necessarily a standard practice in buildings of this size.
Every day we see accidents like this cause personal injuries to construction workers and the public becuase of unsafe working conditions. That is why New York State enacted worker safety laws over a hundred years ago. Since there are a limited number of government inspectors to oversee all the construction projects, the civil justice system is vital to holding owners and general contractors accounatable for unsafe conditions that needless harm workers. If lawsuits don’t hold contractors accountable, who will?
Source: Times Union, Engineer Blames Excavation for Building Collapse, Jordan Carleo-Evangelist 11/5/10