It is no secret that construction workers have a difficult and hazardous job. They have to move and maneuver heavy objects, work from heights, and expertly handle dangerous equipment. Construction companies uses a variety of construction methods, and one of the more risky is known as tilt-up construction. While there are benefits to using this method such as reductions in costs and time, there are also many hazards related to this form of construction. From traumatic brain injuries to crush injuries, the risks this construction technique poses are many, and without proper safety equipment, construction workers put their lives on the line.
What is tilt-up construction?
The National Safety Council explains that Tilt-up construction (also called tilt-slab or tilt-wall) involves the creation of precast concrete wall panels and occasionally other structural elements like basement walls. This method is versatile and suitable for various types of structures, including multi-story buildings, although it has found its greatest use in one-story buildings.
In tilt-up construction, the wall panels and structural units are crafted and allowed to cure in a horizontal orientation. This usually takes place at the construction site, with the base of each panel situated directly adjacent to its eventual location on the foundation. Once cured, the panels are lifted into a vertical position. Temporary bracing is employed to secure them in place until the permanent stabilizing elements, as specified in the structural design, are installed. In cases where intermediate and corner columns are necessary, they are typically formed and cast in their designated positions after the panels have been set.
What are the risks associated with tilt-up construction?
Tilt-up construction is a popular method in the construction industry, offering various benefits such as cost-effectiveness and faster project completion. However, like any construction process, it also comes with its own set of risks and challenges. Here are some of the key risks that tilt-up construction projects may face:
- Structural integrity: One of the primary concerns in tilt-up construction is ensuring the structural integrity of the concrete panels. Poorly designed or improperly constructed panels can lead to collapses or failures that endanger workers and disrupt the construction process.
- Lifting and rigging hazards: Lifting heavy concrete panels requires specialized equipment and proper rigging techniques. Inadequate lifting procedures can lead to panel drops, resulting in serious injuries to workers and damage to property.
- Panel connection failures: Properly connecting and securing the concrete panels is crucial to the overall stability of the structure. If connections are not designed or executed correctly, it can lead to panel separation, compromising the safety of the building.
- Construction tolerances: Achieving precise construction tolerances is crucial for proper panel alignment and building functionality. Deviations from tolerances can lead to misaligned panels, aesthetic issues, and structural problems.
- Quality control issues: Inadequate quality control during the panel casting and lifting processes can result in panels with defects, voids, or inconsistencies in strength. These issues may compromise the overall integrity of the building.
- Design and engineering challenges: Designing and engineering tilt-up projects require careful consideration of factors such as panel size, weight, and connection methods. Incorrect design calculations can lead to issues during construction or even after completion.
- Crane and equipment failures: Cranes and other heavy machinery are essential for tilt-up construction. Equipment failures or operator errors can result in accidents, injuries, and damage to property.
- Material handling challenges. Transporting and handling large and heavy concrete panels requires specialized equipment and careful planning. Mishandling panels can result in damage, delays, and safety hazards.
While construction site workers cannot control everything when it comes to their safety (such as design flaws or defective products), they can mitigate certain risks by following established safety protocols. This includes adherence to proper lifting techniques when handling heavy panels, consistently wearing appropriate personal protective equipment such as hard hats and safety harnesses, maintaining clear communication with colleagues and equipment operators, conducting regular inspections of equipment and scaffolding for potential hazards, and staying vigilant about weather conditions that might affect site safety. Staying up to date with safety training, being cautious around moving equipment, and promptly reporting any unsafe conditions can collectively contribute to a safer working environment and minimize the risk of accidents.
What injuries are caused by tilt-up construction?
Because the walls in tilt-up constructions are formed as one large slab of concrete, when those walls happen to fall (whether that’s due to natural disasters or accidents), they fall hard. A wall made of individual concrete blocks may collapse in on itself or fall piece by piece. Either way, it puts construction workers at risk, as their protective equipment may be no match for a falling concrete wall.
The catastrophic injuries you may sustain from tilt-up construction accidents during the building process include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Falls, being struck by objects, or equipment malfunctions can lead to head injuries, including concussions and more severe TBIs.
- Spinal cord injuries: Accidents involving falls from heights or falling heavy objects can result in spinal cord injuries, potentially causing paralysis or long-term mobility impairments.
- Fractures and broken bones: Falls, collapses, and accidents involving heavy machinery can lead to fractures and broken bones in various parts of the body.
- Crush injuries: Poorly secured panels that collapse or equipment malfunctions can result in crush injuries, which can lead to serious damage to limbs or the torso.
- Burns: Accidents involving hot materials, chemicals, or equipment can lead to burns of varying degrees. Accidental contact with live electrical wires or faulty equipment can also result in electrical burns.
- Internal injuries: Blunt force trauma or accidents involving heavy equipment can cause internal injuries to organs, potentially requiring surgical intervention.
- Trauma and psychological impact: Beyond physical injuries, accidents can also cause emotional trauma, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the shock and severity of the incident.
These injuries can leave workers unable to work and left with large medical bills, as well as having to deal with the long-term impact of their injuries. That is why if you have been in an accident on an construction site, you should seek out an attorney who has the knowledge and experience of handling these cases.
Traumatic brain injuries on tilt-up construction sites
TBIs resulting from tilt-up construction accidents are a serious concern that highlights the importance of safety measures in the construction industry. Tilt-up construction, while efficient and cost-effective, involves significant risks, and accidents can lead to severe consequences, including TBIs.
Brain injuries, such as TBIs, occur when a sudden external force causes damage to the brain. They can range from mild concussions to severe injuries that result in long-term cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments.
Tilt-up construction sites can be hazardous due to the heavy equipment, materials, and elevated work areas involved. Several factors can contribute to accidents leading to TBIs:
- Falls: Workers can fall from heights while working on or around lifted panels or scaffolding, leading to head injuries upon impact with the ground or other objects.
- Struck-by objects: Objects dislodged during panel lifting or construction activities can strike workers’ heads, causing traumatic injuries.
- Panel collapse: If panels are not properly secured or lifted, they can collapse, potentially injuring workers below, including head injuries.
- Equipment malfunction: Machinery used for lifting or maneuvering panels can malfunction, leading to accidents that can result in TBIs.
- Lack of protective gear: Not wearing appropriate head protection, such as hard hats, increases the risk of head injuries in case of accidents. Even so, a hard hat is not likely to save a worker completely from head injury in the case of a tilt-up construction accident, as entire concrete walls can weigh tens of thousands of pounds.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Atlanta worksite injury lawyers have the experience and knowledge in handling cases concerning construction site injuries, our role being to provide crucial support and legal guidance to individuals who have been harmed. With a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics of construction accidents, we delve into the complexities of each case, determining liability concerns, safety regulations, and industry standards specific to tilt-up construction. Our primary focus is to thoroughly investigate the incident, meticulously gather evidence, collaborate with experts, and construct a compelling case that establishes fault and negligence on the part of liable parties—whether it’s contractors, site owners, or equipment manufacturers.
Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys will strive to secure a fair award that encompasses medical costs, wage losses, pain and suffering, and the enduring consequences of the injuries. Our ultimate goal is to empower our clients with the legal tools necessary to pursue justice and compensation while they concentrate on their recovery. We have a history of securing awards for our clients; simply look at our successes.
If you have been injured on a construction site in Georgia, tilt-up or otherwise, do not hesitate to reach out to us by calling us or using our contact page. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options in taking the first steps forward to obtaining justice.
Jed Manton is committed to representing individuals and business that have been harmed by the actions of others. With a solid track record, Jed has helped numerous clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one obtain justice, while holding the wrongdoer accountable.
Read more about Jed D. Manton here.