Learning from failure - two important case studies

8 Feb 21

Five years since the collapse of the wall of a school building in Edinburgh uncovered a litany of construction problems in other schools in the city, and nearly three years on from the fatal under-construction collapse of a footbridge in Florida, what lessons can the construction industry learn from the inquiries into these high-profile structural failures? 

The fact that no-one was killed or injured when the side of Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh collapsed in high winds in 2016 was thanks only to timing - subsequent investigations revealed serious structural problems not only at this school, but at numerous others that had been built or refurbished in the same public-private partnership initiative. Seventeen schools had to be closed for remedial work as a result of the investigation. 

Watch: parents describe how children at Oxgangs Primary School would line up against the wall that collapsed to shelter from the weather.

In March 2018 six people died and eight were seriously injured when the under-construction span of a new footbridge in Florida collapsed onto a live highway. The conclusions of the inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board in the US had wide-ranging implications for the industry worldwide, and the UK's Standing Committee on Structural Safety published a special report highlighting them. 

This short video captures the moment of the collapse on a driver's dashcam.

These critical failures and the lessons that were drawn from the subsequent investigations align closely with some of GIRI's key messages, in particular the relationships we build, and the behaviours they support. 

In the next GIRI forum on 15th February we will review the circumstances of the collapses and the investigations and invite participants to consider what lessons they can take from these failures to apply to their own work practice. 

To find out more about the GIRI forum and to register visit our events page

Back Back