Construction Failures: Have We Learned Our Lessons?


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Title: Construction Failures: Have We Learned Our Lessons?

Author(s): N.J. Carino

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 285


Appears on pages(s): 1-18

Keywords: Construction; failure; falsework; formwork; in-place strength; investigation.

Date: 5/1/2012

This paper is based on a presentation in honor of Dov Kaminetzky’s commitment to the importance of educating those involved in construction about the causes of construction failures. A review is presented of the triad of human factors (ignorance, carelessness, and greed) that are often the underlying causes of the technical factors leading to failures. Four construction failures investigated by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards are reviewed. The systematic approach used in these investigations to arrive at the likely causes of the failures is discussed. The series of construction failures that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s raised questions about the whole process of engineering and construction of the built environment. Conferences were held and causes of failures were debated widely. As a result, changes were made to codes and standards and steps were taken to define better the responsibilities of each member of the project team. The paper concludes with recommendations for reducing the likelihood of construction failures, and it is suggested that we may have indeed learned important lessons.