Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: Shoring Design

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Title: Message
Stan wrote -
"......The collapses occurred because of the failure of the field laborers (a.k.a., the deceased) to employ the shoring systems, even though the equipment and materials were right there on the job sites......"
Wouldn't this be enough evidence siding with the engineer of record that it wasn't their fault?  Is a disclaimer in the General Notes, such as the following, not enough?
"The Structural Engineer is not responsible for, and will not have control of, construction means, methods, techniques, sequences or procedures, or for safety precautions and programs in connection with the construction work, nor will he be responsible for the Contractor's failure to carry out the construction work in accordance with the contract documents."
-----Original Message-----
From: Caldwell, Stan [mailto:scaldwell(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 9:17 AM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Subject: RE: Shoring Design

Mark Gilligan wrote (in part):

"Thus the answer is to manage your risks by chosing your client, doing a quality job, working to eliminate sources of claims, and last but not least charging enough money."


You made a number of excellent points throughout your post, including the summary (above).  In criticizing it, I feel like I am picking on motherhood, apple pie, and the American way.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to offer my opinion that your scenario more-or-less describes professional engineering services in Heaven.  In Texas, and in most of the real world, your assumptions are idealistic.  Contractors mostly are awarded work by offering the lowest price.  In turn, they want to spend as little as possible to get the job done.  They will not hire an engineer (structural or geotechnical) unless they are required to, and they are seldom required to.  They typically submit a trench safety plan calling for the use of rented systems such as pre-engineered hydraulic trench boxes or speed shores.  Both of these systems are more than adequate if properly used.  However, the contractor typically then subs the "nasty" excavation and below-grade labor to the cheapest outfit he can find.  More often than not, this subcontractor turns out to be an unincorporated minority enterprise, whose workers mostly are comprised of "day labor".  Usually, the subcontractors are paid on a unit basis, by cubic foot of hole, or linear foot of pipe, or whatever.  Since they got the work by being the cheapest, their only real opportunity make a profit is to speed things up by bending the rules when no one is looking.  Excavation proceeds much more quickly without the bother and obstruction inherent in shoring.  Thus, even when all of the shoring equipment is on the jobsite, it often is ignored ... especially on nights and weekends when inspections are less likely to occur.  Coincidentally, this is when most trench collapses occur.

In my previous post describing the two big lawsuits, I failed to mention that neither trench collapse occurred because of the failure of the shoring system.  The collapses occurred because of the failure of the field laborers (a.k.a., the deceased) to employ the shoring systems, even though the equipment and materials were right there on the job sites.  Somehow, the wives and children of the deceased never accept the fact that their loved ones died as a result of their own personal negligence. So they hire personal injury attorneys to sue everyone involved in the project.  For the reasons described in my previous post, that usually leaves the engineer-of-record as the sole defendant, even if they only designed the final improvements and had nothing whatsoever to do with the means and methods of construction.  Such is life in the real world.


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas (not Heaven)