Engineering disasters – when progress pays a price

Engineering disasters – when progress pays a price

Last month we looked at pioneering engineering and we really appreciated your comments. This month we are tackling the difficult subject of engineering failures. After the tragic events in Kolkata (Calcutta) at the start of April when an ‘under construction’ flyover collapsed and the on-going investigation into the boiler house collapse at the defunct Didcot A power station, unfortunately engineering disasters have received quite a lot of air time recently.

The flyover in Kolkata had been under construction for 5 years and collapsed just 12 hours after the concrete was laid. Some people are blaming it on the rush to develop infrastructure amidst huge demand within India’s booming economy, and asking the question about whether the building contractor had been cutting corners to meet such demands. Whatever the cause, there was clearly a lack of safety inspections and it is sad that engineering failures sometimes come with a tragic price as can be seen from this list of other engineering disasters:

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, otherwise known as the BP oil spill was caused when a gas explosion lead the oil rig to explode and sink. A sea floor oil gusher then continued to flow into the ocean for 87 days causing the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

The Fukushima reactor meltdown was initially blamed on a magnitude 9-earthquake and 14 metre tsunami. However, these claims were quickly challenged by a Japanese parliamentary panel who stated that adequate safety measures were not in place to protect the power plant from the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis which were known to be a risk in the area.

Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Levee System. A white paper published after Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans blamed the extent of the flooding on the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and its lack of an external review board to double check its designs and plans for the (faulty) flood walls that were installed in the city.

Hyatt Regency walkway collapse has only been surpassed by the downfall of the world trade centre when it comes to devastating structural failures in the US. A small but ultimately flawed design change doubled the load on walkway support beams and tie rods. The new design was barely able to cope with the structure itself, let alone the weight of hotel guests. The connection failed, and the fourth-floor walkway collapsed onto the second-floor walkway with tragic consequences.

Charles de Gaulle airport roof collapse was caused by an array of design and construction failures.

Eschede train disaster is still the worst high speed rail disaster worldwide caused by a single crack in the train wheel, leading to derailment at a set of points and a horrific crash into a road bridge.

In the field of engineering, the importance of safety is paramount, whatever the sector. Talking specifically about rail, all sorts of rail safety aspects will be discussed at the Rail Safety Summit taking place on 5 May 2016 #RailSafetySummit. By having such stringent approaches to safety, here in the UK we are lucky enough to have one of the safest railways in Europe, according to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in their 2013 health and safety report. At Resourcing Solutions we put safety before profit and our internal compliance procedures ensure we keep all our rail, power and built environment candidates safe. We also help our clients find the best candidates to ensure their projects are completed to the highest standards of safety. For more information please visit our Safety Zone.

Whether you work specifically within engineering safety or not, we’d really like to hear your comments. What are your views on safety? Do you have any views on the failures we’ve listed above? Do you have any safety examples, good or bad, that we can all learn from?

If you are looking for a new opportunity with rail, power or the built environment or would simply like to find out more about what we can offer you then please contact us.

This entry was posted on 26th April 2016. It was filed under the Construction, categories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. What's RSS?.