Yesterday afternoon, a wall collapsed at the former Wollaston Theatre in Quincy, trapping two workers under the debris. The two workers were employees of Jamie McGuinness & Sons working on a demolition when the wall collapsed. One worker, 40-years-old, was on a cherry picker and jumped down landing on the rocks below while the other worker, 38-years-old, was already on the ground and was then buried by debris for at least 15 minutes. Quincy Fire Deputy Chief Jack Cadegan made a statement saying he “found the gentleman under three to four feet of bricks and [he] had a steel beam across his chest. The steel beam may have actually protected him somewhat.” Both men were transported to Boston Medical Center with serious injuries but they are expected to recover.
Accidents like this occur somewhat commonly at construction sites due to the various hazards present. The common accidents that occur at these sites include electrocutions, falls, equipment failure, and collapses of unsupported excavations. Too often, injuries and deaths by such methods are preventable. Unfortunately, construction workplace accidents tend to be caused by the sheer ignorance or negligence of construction workers or site developers. One of the more common causes of injuries is structural collapse, most often when buildings or bridges are being erected or demolished. Structural collapse during construction can be caused by excessive construction loading, improper sequencing, temporary material or system weaknesses, and temporary instabilities. There are several warning signs that may indicate potential structural collapse that construction workers should be vigilant of. These signs include: age of the building; cracks or bulges in walls; ability of water or smoke to push through walls that should have solid masonry; and sagging floors and roofs. Construction workers should be aware of these warning signs as well as take addition safety precautions. Most frequently, structural collapses occur in trenching, long and narrow ditches in the ground. These collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries annually. Construction deaths as a result of trench collapses rose considerably in 2003. OSHA provides some specific safety precautions to consider while working with trenches, including the following:
- Never enter an unprotected trench.
- Always use a protective system for trenches deeper than five feet.
- Hire a registered professional engineer to design a protective system for trenches deeper than 20 feet.
- Always have an exit to a trench—i.e. a ladder, stairway or ramp—no more than 25 feet away from employees in the trench.
- Keep spoils—dirt or rock excavated and removed from trenches—at least two feet away from the edge of trenches.
- Have trenches inspected by a trained person prior to entry and after any hazard-increasing event such as rain, vibrations or excessive surcharge loads.
By taking these precautions, workers can avoid most unnecessary collapses and consequential injuries from occurring. However, even after taking these steps, collapses can still occur, so it is essential that workers remain vigilant at all times while working on construction sites.
Carper, Ken. “Beware of Vulnerabilities during Construction.” Construction & Eqiupment. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.
Lister, Jonathan. “Signs of Building Collapse.” EHow. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.
“Worker Safety Series, Construction.” UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.
“Workers Suffer Serious Injuries after Wall Collapse at Wollaston Theatre.” WCVB. N.p., 12 July 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.