Dangers of Building Collapses and Shifting Surfaces

by James M. Hoffmann on Oct. 30, 2023

Employment Workers' Compensation Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: Annual building collapses lead to 343 deaths, not just from engineering flaws but also natural events. Workers face amputations, brain injuries, fractures, respiratory issues, and psychological traumas.

Did you know that an average of 8 buildings collapse annually, causing 343 deaths? And while it’s easy to blame the engineers for building collapses, sometimes building collapses are beyond our control. Earthquakes, strong winds, and unexpected soil behavior can compromise the structural integrity of buildings, sometimes collapsing them before they’re complete.


Construction workers risk their lives working on incomplete structures to meet deadlines and make a living. Uneven force distribution and natural phenomena could cause the collapse of building elements and the entire structure. Below are some dangers of collapsing buildings and shifting surfaces in construction sites.




Amputation describes losing a body part through surgical removal, crushing, or cutting off.  Building collapses can cause sharp objects to cut through workers' body parts, amputating them. Large falling objects can sometimes crush workers’ body parts, rendering them unusable and necessitating amputations.


Traumatic Brain Injuries


A traumatic brain injury is a trauma to the brain resulting from forceful impact from a solid object. Falling objects during building collapses can hit the head, leading to TBIs. Sometimes workers can fall and hit their heads when surfaces shift unexpectedly.


Severe TBIs can lead to cognitive deterioration, disability, and even death. Construction workers should wear helmets and stay vigilant of falling objects to sidestep these injuries. Mild to moderate cases of TBIs heal with medication and rehabilitation.


Broken Bones and Fractures


Like with TBIs, falling objects can also hit the body and cause bone fractures. Fractures in the bone occur when force exerted on the bone exceeds the bone’s bearing capacity, leading to cracking or complete breakage. Trapping parts of the body under or between heavy objects can also cause fractures.


Workers with bone fractures require impromptu treatment or risk the fracture from extending further along the bone. Fractures bone heal after several months with rest, rehabilitation, and a proper diet.


Respiratory Complications


Aside from heavy falling objects, the dust and debris from collapsing structures can also pose a safety risk. Inhaling dust after a building collapse can cause lung irritation. Concrete dust contains silica, an incredibly toxic substance that can cause silicosis and lung cancer. The former describes the scarring and stiffening of the lungs.


Facial masks and respirators protect workers from the devastating effects of inhaling dust and other chemicals during a building collapse. Consider covering your nose and mouth with a piece of fabric if respirators and gas masks are unavailable.


Psychological Trauma


The events of a building collapse can have long-term psychological implications on construction workers. Some of them lose their closest friends or sustain debilitating, life-changing injuries, completely transforming their lives. It’s not uncommon for such workers to experience psychological disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Counseling and staying around friends and families help reduce the psychological burden of these life-changing events.


Speak With a St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney 24/7


Surviving a building collapse is enough reason to be thankful and appreciate life. However, the injuries sustained from such a disaster can greatly compromise your quality of life. Fortunately, worker’s comp insurance can ease the financial burden of these injuries.

Are you a worker who recently suffered injuries from surface shifting or a building collapse? If so, contact The Law Office of James M. Hoffman today to learn more about your legal rights and options. Call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.

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