Forensic Engineering Analysis of Responsibility for Failure of Temporary Wall Bracing

Article Author: Tony Huff, P.E. F.ASCE (NAFE 267C)

Volume: 29
Volume #: 1
Month: June
Year: 2012

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Abstract:

A Concrete Sub-Contractor was injured when a tall standing wood stud-framed wall fell during a strong wind storm. The accident happened on a Friday afternoon as concrete workers waited for the opportunity to finish a morning concrete pour for a new restaurant that was under construction. Realizing that the wind was going to topple the interior wall on the newly placed concrete, efforts were made to keep the wall from falling. The wall could not be steadied and it fell, allegedly injuring a concrete worker. The Framing Sub-Contractor had used typical 2x6 lumber to make temporary braces to steady the walls plumb and true as the framing and standing of walls progressed toward the completion of the roof structure. To avoid damage to an exposed decorative concrete surface in the dining area, the main interior wall was braced to the kitchen side where the Concrete Sub-Contractor was placing concrete that day. The Framing Sub-Contractor was named as a defendant in the lawsuit that followed. The Attorney for the Framing Sub-Contractor secured the services of the FE on behalf of the Framing Sub-Contractor. Depositions revealed that bracing for the standing stud-framed interior wall was not in place at the time of the accident. This paper pieces together the sequence of events and reviews the roles and contractual responsibilities of both the General Contractor and the Sub-Contractor as related to project scheduling, project management, jobsite coordination, and overall jobsite safety. Acceleration of the project schedule and coordination issues with overlapping jobsite activities were identified as contributing factors preceding the collapse of the wall. The case was settled out-of-court for nuisance value one (1) day before trial was scheduled to begin.

Keywords:

Temporary brace, construction management, construction accident, job site safety, job site responsibility, general contractor, sub-contractor