Rescue workers recently pulled a fourth victim from the wreckage of a parking garage under construction on the Miami-Dade College campus. The accident investigation is still underway, but investigators know that part of the garage collapsed as workers were installing a "spandrel beam" on the structure. The beam is a massive five-story pre-cast concrete beam that was going to be part of the elevator shaft of the garage. The project is being built by the Ajax Building Corp., which is using pre-cast concrete forms made off-site to save money and expedite construction. It is not yet known whether or not the beam installation caused the collapse.
The general contractor and accident investigators are working together to determine the cause of the construction accident, but Al Brizuela, an engineer based in Miami, said a number of factors could have contributed to the collapse of the structure. He mentioned that builders also favor pre-cast concrete structures, as they offer more flexibility than those that are poured on site.
"The last slab could have slipped, but the way the columns failed in the center, they basically exploded," Brizuela said. "It could be a combination of many factors — it could be maybe an error of the design, an error in the construction of the columns."
These pre-cast structures weigh many tons, and workers know they need to exercise extra care when maneuvering them into position. If something goes wrong as these pieces are put in place, workers have little or no time to avoid being crushed.
"Any slight deviation in the alignment will cause a catastrophic failure," Brizuela said. "They had no chance, the guys that were underneath."
Joe White, owner of a Pittsburgh construction company that specializes in parking structures, suspected that there might not have been enough welders on site to join the huge concrete pieces together. He said that if the slabs are not properly secured, a slight wind gust or a tap from a crane positioning the slab could easily cause the slab to tip over and cause a deadly accident.
"All they have to do is tap that thing and it just knocks that whole thing straight to the ground," White said.
Construction workers know that they work in a very dangerous industry. However, if a building contractor takes shortcuts to save money on a project, there is only so much that workers can do to prevent accidents. It is unknown whether or not this construction accident was caused by negligence, but, if investigators determine that it was, injured workers and the families of the deceased would be entitled to seek damages against the negligent parties. If you or a loved one is injured in a construction accident and you would like to learn more about your rights and legal options, call 800-425-2004 today to schedule a free consultation with Florida construction accident lawyer James O. Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham has been using his skills and experience as an Orlando personal injury attorney to help injured workers since 1977. Call today for effective legal representation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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