Deck Collapse Leads to Dozens of Injuries

Whether you wanted to Heat or the Spurs to win, it surely was an exciting matchup, but unfortunately watching the game took a dangerous turn for many fans in Florida.

Local basketball fans gathered on the 13th of June at a North Bay Village, FL bar and grill to watch the NBA finals game. Nearly 100 people decided to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and watch it outside on the restaurant’s large wooden deck. What they didn’t know is that the deck was unstable and would collapse, dropping patrons into the bay below. There were 24 reported injuries with two being serious.

Since the collapse, the city has been investigating what went wrong on this commercial property that was inspected back in January. The owners had to have their establishment inspected in the beginning of the year, but although the property’s building was signed off on, the deck wasn’t included in the inspection. County officials are looking into why. When the collapsed deck, which practically split in half, was looked at the day after, the structural issues were very clear. Most of the steel used to support the deck had corroded over time and couldn’t withstand the weight of the group.

It is unclear when the last time the deck itself was inspected.

One thing that is clear is that the load was way too much for the deck to hold. Its capacity according to local records is 74. With 26 extra people, it isn’t surprising that the deck failed. Now the restaurant owner is being sued by his patrons. They claim the owners had a duty to properly maintain the deck to ensure safety for those that go to the bar and grill.

This situation, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. Decks, like any structure need to be maintained and replaced over time. Their frame work will corrode and deteriorate through the years as it is exposed to harsh weather, and in this case, salt water.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we suggest that any deck over 7 years be inspected by a professional deck builder. If a younger deck is showing signs of needing work, we urge homeowners to have it looked at. A deck safety inspection will look at all parts of the deck, (boards, connections, structure, attachment, foundation, stairs, railings, etc.) and will evaluate where they are in its life. A checklist is done and recommendations are made. We sometimes see that while parts of the deck may need to be repaired or replaced, not everything has to. For example, boards may need to be replaced, but the deck frame may be just fine. Make sure to ask your inspector when the deck needs to be inspected again and when you should be ready to replace the entire structure.

Commercial decks usually have to carry a heavier load and receive more wear and tear. If you are a commercial property owner who has a deck, you have to make sure that it is safe for your patrons. Having regular safety inspections and making sure to do timely repairs will give you the peace of mind that your structure won’t collapse.

If you are worried that your deck isn’t in the best shape, please contact your local Archadeck office and have them come to your property for a deck safety inspection.

Source information for this blog are the Miami Herald and WCF Courier.

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