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10 Worst Construction Accidents in History

Despite all our efforts, construction accidents happen all the time, so if you want to learn more about them then read our list of 10 worst construction accidents in history.

They say that no job is easy, and probably everyone considers their job to be hard or boring. We can’t argue with that since it’s all a matter of perception. Everyone has the right to complain about their job and it is completely understandable. However, not all jobs are equally difficult or equally boring, and most importantly, not all jobs are dangerous.

 Mankind has developed beyond limits of imagination. We have perfected so many things that seemed impossible in the past. But somehow, we keep making the same mistakes. When it comes to construction, one would think that by now, we have learned from our mistakes and managed to minimize possibilities of fatal accidents. But sadly, construction workers still risk their lives every day in order to earn a paycheck. Construction accidents are regular, and in the United States, on average, two construction workers die of work-related injuries each day. This is a pretty bad statistics and it seems as if nothing is going to change in the near future. The usual injuries include electrocution, falls, being struck by an object or caught between two objects. Sadly, construction workers face these risks every day when they go to work. You can read more about the construction dangers, facts, and repercussions on EHS Today.

10 Worst Construction Accidents in the World

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Very often, negligence is the cause of fatal injuries on construction sites. People try to make shortcuts to save either time or money and that eventually leads to a terrible accident. Even though construction is a serious thing and can cost us many lives, we still tend to put more value on financial gain or saving time. It is a sad fact. Nevertheless, accidents occur even when construction companies do everything right. Some things simply cannot be predicted and their outcome comes as a shock. But the deadliest accidents in the world usually happen when someone becomes hasty or greedy and tries to finish the project as quickly as possible. Safety regulations established to ensure that a project can be completed are often neglected and overlooked even though this may have fatal consequences. When it comes to construction, we must take the famous thought “Rome wasn’t built in a day” very seriously. At times, when a tragic accident happens, it triggers a response followed by much criticism by the public aimed at improving the working conditions for constructions workers.

In one of our previous articles, we wrote about 10 Worst Industrial Disasters/Accidents in the World, and we listed the deadliest and the most terrifying accidents caused by man. Today, we focus on construction accidents and we look back on some of the worst accidents that took place in the past. Some of these terrible construction accidents happened in the past few years which is probably the most devastating fact considering how today we have the all the knowledge and technique we didn’t have in the past. We listed them according to years they took place in, from the past ones to the most recent ones.  We relied on American Insurance and Inside Papertrail for more details on these deadly events.  Take a look at our list of 10 worst construction accidents in history.

10. Quebec City Bridge

This bridge is known for being the longest cantilever bridge in the world, but also for having collapsed twice in its history. The bridge was opened in 1919, after many years of construction and two accidents. The first one took place in 1907 when Norman McLure noticed distortions in the metal and wrote to the consulting engineer Theodore Copper and then even traveled to New York. They agreed that the construction should be stopped, but unfortunately, it was too late. On August 27, 1907, the south arm and the central part of the bridge collapsed and killed 75 workers while injuring 11. Then again in September 1916, another 13 workers were killed when trying to raise a new central section.

9. Willow Island

One of the worst construction accidents took place at Willow Island in West Virginia, in 1978 and the reason for it is again negligence and hasty construction. A contractor called Research-Cottrell was building a cooling tower at the Pleasants Power Sation at the same time when they were struggling with several other projects. This means that some shortcuts were taken, to save both money and time. The concrete was poured every day even though it takes longer than that for the concrete from the previous day to set, and the second tower reached the height of 166 feet. The partial collapse of the crane that was lifting the concrete caused both the concrete and the scaffolding bolted onto the tower to collapse killing all 51 workers. This horrible accident was a cause for new safety guidelines.

8. New York City Crane Collapse

Once again, negligence was the cause which led to many deaths just like in No.8 on our list of 10 worst construction accidents in history. One of the worst accidents in New York took place in 2008 during the construction of a 40-storey building on East 51st Street in New York City. Seven people were killed when a crane collapsed while workers were trying to raise a tower crane higher. The construction site is closed ever since and investigations showed that there were many safety violations that eventually led to the horrible accident.

7. Deepwater Horizon, Mexico

At number 7 on our list of worst construction accidents in history we have the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ( or BP spill) that began on April 10, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico when the oil platform exploded and sank. The accident killed 11 workers and oil continued to leak into the Gulf of Mexico during the next 87 days. The Deepwater Horizon was a drilling rig that was drilling an exploratory well bellow the sea level approximately at 5,100 feet. The oil leak was only discovered on April 22 and it was estimated that the flow rate was 1,000-5,000 barrels per day with the total amount of about 4,9 million barrels. This terrible accident caused a massive response to protect beaches and wetlands and countless investigations to determine the cause of the spill. Apparently, a series of cost-cutting decisions were made which finally led to this sad event.

6. Rio de Janeiro Building Collapse

On January 25, 2012, three office buildings collapsed in Rio de Janeiro killing 17 people. The buildings were part of the Vieira Fazenda office block and they were 22-storey, 23-storey, and 6-storey high. It is believed that the reason for collapsing of the second building is structural failure. Regulators say that there were no construction permits for the building.

5. Rana Plaza Collapse

One of the most tragic disasters ever, and on our list of worst construction accidents in history, that took 1,100 lives and injured 2,500 people took place on April 24, 2013, in Bangladesh. The tragedy occurred when the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory, which was dangerously built in the first place, collapsed. It was a garment factory and the event drew attention to the terrible working conditions in this country where a great number of brands produce their clothes. The event led to an increase in salaries afterward, as well as safety inspections.

4. Mumbai Building Collapse

Continuing with a number 4 on our list of worst construction accidents in history that happened on September 27, 2013, when a five-storey building collapsed and killed 61 people and injuring 32 in Mumbai, India. According to the police, the building collapsed after a mezzanine floor was built without permission on the ground floor of the building. The building had more than 100 residents.


3. Queen Juliana Bridge Crane Collapse

Twenty people were injured in a construction accident that took place in August 2015, in the Netherlands. The plan was to place a deck on the Juliana Bridge in Alphen aan den Rijn but the two cranes collapsed while trying to lift the deck. The cranes crashed into buildings and homes nearby completely destroying many of them. Once again the cause of the accident is negligence since the companies underestimated the complexity of the work and didn’t consider all the risks related to it. The Dutch Safety Board said that the preparations for placing the deck were not sufficient.

2. Mecca Crane Collapse

Another accident in 2015  took place when a crane toppled over the Grand Mosque in Mecca, on September 11, in Saudi Arabia. The accident killed 111 people and injured 394, all of them were pilgrims and of twelve different nationalities. This horrible accident is one of the deadliest crane collapses in the modern history. And now, let’s see the number one on our list of worst construction accidents in history.

1. Indian Overpass Collapse

The most recent accident on our list of 10 worst construction accidents in history occurred last year. One of the most recent construction accidents occurred when an overpass till under construction collapsed in Kolkata, India, in March 2016. About 320 feet (100 meters) of the  Vivekananda Overpass crashed and killed 27 people while more than 80 were injured. The work on the flyover began in 2009 and the construction was supposed to be finished by 2010. The new deadline was February 2016, but only 60% of work was done and the company had millions of dollars of debt. The bank which lent the company the money took over in 2015 and the company was banned from doing business in the state. One day before the terrible collapse, concrete was laid on the bridge and the next day, it collapsed burying pedestrians and cars.