Collapsed Amazon warehouse design comes under scrutiny | St. Louis News Headlines


EDWARDSVILLE (KMOV.com) – An OSHA investigation into Amazon’s warehouse in Edwardsville that was heavily damaged by a tornado last week could take up to six months. In the meantime, an association of builders who use the style of construction used in the Amazon warehouse is defending what is called “tilting construction”.

Many large warehouses built in recent years use the tilting style. The method uses large, preformed concrete sections that are angled into place to form the exterior walls of the building. Sometimes the wall sections are 40 feet high, 11 inches thick, and can weigh up to 300,000 pounds.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an investigation into the deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville.

In response to media inquiries following the Amazon warehouse collapse, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association released a statement that reads in part:

“We mourn the lives lost in the tragic storms that recently ravaged much of our country. Our hearts and minds are with families, friends and communities – all lives affected.”

The statement went on to say that there are misconceptions about the reclining design and that very few structures have been designed to withstand tornadoes.

“The design and construction of all buildings, regardless of construction methodology or material, are governed by local, state and national building codes which set minimum standards for design loads, including the level of strength of high wind events as a function of a period of probability, “the statement also said.

The Tilt-Up Concrete Association’s website states that its design is “applicable to any type of building, geographic location, or climate.”

When an EF-5 tornado hit Joplin in 2011, it caused a Home Depot store to collapse, killing six people. The store had been built using the tilting design.

The wife of one of the Home Depot employees who was killed in Joplin sued the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. The judge ruled that there was no evidence Home Depot had done anything wrong during the construction of the building.

Katrina Richards was a lawyer in the case and told News 4 that Joplin learned of the tragedy. The city has tightened building codes, improved warning systems and access to storm shelters.

“So we would expect that in the future if a major tornado passed through the city, I don’t think we would have the same level of fatalities,” Richards said.

During the reconstruction of the Home Depot in Joplin, a reinforced room was added where employees could go in the event of a storm.

Six people died after part of Amazon’s warehouse in Edwardsville collapsed when storms erupted Friday night, police said.

Currently, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) building codes for the United States are being updated and will come into effect in 2022. Some buildings will need to be constructed to a standard that would make them resistant to tornadoes. , according to associate professor of structural engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology Dr. Grace Yan. She said large warehouses, as a rule, will not be, but commercial buildings with hazardous materials.

“We don’t want to see more violent tornadoes in the future, but if we do, we want to avoid this kind of disaster due to the building failure,” she said.

Yan suggested that builders take measures during construction that aren’t too costly to make large warehouses safer in stormy weather. She recommended stronger roof structures, better roof-to-wall connections, more interior walls, and better anchoring of the walls to the foundation.

Yan also said that more research needs to be done on the effects of high winds on large business structures.

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