Wood Truss Failure Modes – What You Should Know

Last updated on: June 7, 2017


Wood truss systems transformed the construction industry when the metal truss plate was invented in the 1950s. The benefits of wood truss systems over stick framing include the ability to ensure quality control, reduced construction time, and lower construction costs. Wood truss systems are used in both residential and commercial buildings to ensure stability in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, roofing and flooring.

Because wood truss systems play such a crucial role in the construction process, it is important that all individuals working with wood truss systems as part of a construction project be well-versed on safety measures and industry standards that should be followed. These standards are intended in part to guide engineers, contractors, and construction workers who will be handling and installing wood truss systems to reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries.

Failure Mode No. 1 – Wood Truss Handling & Hoisting

The majority of injuries sustained with regard to wood truss systems occur during handling, hoisting, and installing. Handling and hoisting a wood truss is the first step before the wood truss can be installed and braced. Wood trusses are only strong when they are grouped together, meaning that one single wood truss on its own is unstable. Because of this instability, a single wood truss could twist, bend, or buckle during handling or hoisting. This can lead to both the wood truss being damaged and someone being injured.

Industry guidelines have certain hoisting requirements depending on the size of the wood trusses. If the wood trusses are 45 feet or less, only one lift point (from a crane) is necessary. If the wood trusses are greater than 45 feet but less than 60 feet, two lift points are required. For wood trusses greater than 60 feet, three lift points are required. If these guidelines are not followed, accidents can happen that may result in significant personal injuries.

Failure Mode No. 2 – Wood Truss Installation and Bracing

Personal injuries resulting from improper wood truss installation or bracing can be catastrophic and even fatal. After all, if a wood truss is not installed or braced properly, the structure supported by the wood trusses could collapse. As such, there are strict standards and design specifications that must be followed. Any deviation from such standards and specifications can lead to injury.

The installation of the first few wood trusses sets the stage for all subsequent wood trusses to be installed. Therefore, if the installation process is deficient in any way from the start, any additional wood trusses installed will likewise be deficient.

Temporary bracing of the wood truss system is vital throughout the entire construction process. Just as improper installation can lead to injury, improper temporary bracing can present similar safety concerns. All construction workers on site must rely on the stability of the temporary bracing system. The contractor is responsible for all temporary bracing, and the engineer of record is responsible for all permanent bracing. Thus, both of these professionals must look out for the benefit and safety of their workers.

Contact Zinda Law Group Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has sustained personal injuries resulting from a wood truss failure, you may have many unanswered questions and are not sure where to turn next. At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys provide a wide array of legal services to injured victims from all across the United States. Our accident attorneys have extensive experience handling construction-related personal injury cases, including those involving wood truss system failures. Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.