Systems for Structural Failure Investigations in the United States

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Forensic Engineering 2015: Performance of the Built Environment


The United States lacks a comprehensive system for investigation of structural failures. However, there are a number of systems that may be brought into play following a collapse. Transportation facilities such as bridges are investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Investigations of other structural collapses are often left to independent forensic engineers hired by the parties to actual or potential litigation following the incident. The findings of these investigators may remain confidential and may never be published. It is also possible that multiple conflicting possible causes are published, such as the L’Ambiance Plaza lift slab collapse. In some cases, construction collapses are investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but those investigations are often limited to whether or not any OSHA safety rules were violated. In contrast, the United Kingdom has a confidential reporting system on structural safety (CROSS). This system allows for anonymous report submission.


Seventh Congress on Forensic Engineering, November 15–18, 2015, Miami, Florida