Tilt-Up Construction Accidents Are Deadly Accidents

Tilt-Up Construction Accidents Are Deadly AccidentsTilt-up construction is a method that builders use to put up big walls for buildings. But this way of building can be really dangerous, and even deadly.  If things go wrong, those walls can fall down and cause some devastating injuries to workers and site visitors alike. This is a big concern in places like Oklahoma City where this method is frequently used.

The sheer force and weight of these collapsing walls can lead to severe injuries caused by the falling debris. The danger of heavy pieces falling from above quickly turns a construction area into a hazardous area. Additionally, consider the dangerous situation of those workers who find themselves on top of these walls at the exact moment they collapse in a construction accident.

What is tilt-up construction, exactly?

Tilt-up construction is used largely in commercial buildings. You pour concrete horizontally into slabs on the ground on the site or a nearby facility. These slabs form the walls. Once the walls are set, you tilt them up into position, usually with a crane. The slabs are then braced into position while the rest of the building is constructed.

Construction companies like using this method for a few reasons. First, it’s often more affordable than other ways of building walls. Imagine if you had to build each wall brick by brick right where it’s going to stand—that takes a lot of time and money. With tilt-up construction, these walls can be made in a factory-like setting close by and then moved into position, saving both time and money for transportation costs.

The risks involved with tilt-up construction

Tilt-up construction, while efficient, comes with quite a few risks. Several inherent dangers can arise during the process due to its unique characteristics:

  • When these massive walls are being lifted and put into place, there’s a risk that something might go wrong. The walls could fall over or break apart, potentially causing serious injuries to the workers around.
  • Structural failure. Proper bracing, which is the support for the walls, is crucial. If the bracing isn’t done right, the walls might not stand strong. This could lead to parts of the building collapsing or even the whole structure failing.
  • Environmental factors. Tilt-up walls can be sensitive to the weather and ground shaking. Strong winds or earthquakes could make these walls wobble or even fall down, putting everyone nearby at risk.
  • Improper connection and sealing. The walls need to be properly connected to each other and to the rest of the building. If this connection isn’t secure, it could weaken the structure. Also, making sure there are no gaps or openings in the walls is important for keeping out things like water and insects.
  • Chain reaction falls. One particular risk of this type of construction is that if one wall falls, others may fall, too. When Joplin was hit by that tornado back in 2011, people died at the local Home Depot because the tornado hit the building and the walls collapsed, one after the other, like dominos. Oklahoma averages almost 70 tornadoes and a few dozen earthquakes each year. That’s a lot of shaking and moving under walls that don’t hold up well to that type of scenario.

A Safety and Health Information Bulletin from OSHA provides valuable suggestions to prevent the collapse of these panels and offers safety insights tailored for workers engaged in tilt-up panel erection. This method is frequently employed in lifting concrete wall panels during the construction of various buildings and structures.

The inspiration for this bulletin stems from a tragic incident in North Carolina. In that incident, three workers lost their lives due to a catastrophic accident when a substantial concrete wall panel weighing twenty tons gave way and collapsed after not being properly braced. Unfortunately, this instance is not a one-off, either.

Potential injuries resulting from tilt-up construction failures

Tilt-up construction failures can have severe consequences, posing significant risks to the safety of construction workers. Some types of injuries that workers may sustain if tilt-up construction projects do not proceed as planned include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – Collapsing walls can cause head trauma, leading to cognitive impairments, memory loss, mood changes, and lasting neurological issues.
  • Broken bones – Falling debris can fracture arms, legs, ribs, and the spine, necessitating extensive medical care and rehabilitation.
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis – Wall failures can lead to spinal cord injuries, potentially causing paralysis and altering a worker’s quality of life, requiring ongoing medical attention.
  • Crushing injuries – Trapped under collapsing materials can cause internal damage, broken bones, and severe tissue injuries, demanding immediate medical attention and surgeries.
  • Internal organ damage – Impact from debris can result in internal injuries, including punctured organs and bleeding, with life-threatening consequences that might not be immediately apparent.
  • Amputations – Severe injuries can lead to trapped or injured limbs requiring amputation, which brings about significant physical and emotional adjustments.
  • Death – In the worst cases, wall failures can be fatal due to the weight and force of collapsing materials, with immediate impact or insurmountable injuries.

Pursuing legal action after an Oklahoma City tilt-up construction accident

Surviving serious injuries resulting from a tilt-up construction accident can mark a turning point in a person’s life, altering their physical abilities, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life. Even after the immediate danger has passed, the lasting impact of injuries like traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, amputations, and more can be profound and enduring. Such injuries often demand ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy, with the potential for significant lifestyle adjustments.

In such cases, pursuing a legal case to seek compensation for these life-altering injuries becomes not only a matter of justice but also a way to secure the resources necessary for comprehensive medical care, adaptive equipment, and therapies that aid in recovery and adaptation. Compensation can provide a financial cushion for the long-term costs associated with medical bills, lost wages, and the potential need for home modifications or in-home care.

While financial compensation cannot fully erase the physical and emotional toll of these injuries, it can significantly alleviate the burdens and challenges that arise from the aftermath. By pursuing legal action, victims can help hold responsible parties accountable for their injuries, receive the support they need for recovery, and work towards rebuilding their lives with the necessary resources and care.

If you or a loved one was injured in a tilt-up construction accident, talk to the experienced Oklahoma City construction accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears about your case. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.