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Deck Safety Awareness

Deck Safety Awareness

Recently, another deck collapse made the local news. The collapse occurred on June 5th at a rental cottage in Avon. The house had been built in 1978. Three people were transported by Dare County Emergency Services to the Outer Banks Hospital where they were later released. The cause of the collapse was a faulty girder-to-piling connection, according to the Coastland Times.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 6,000 people are injured each year in accidents stemming from the structural failure or collapse of decks and porches. The most common causes of failure are improper support of joists and girders, improperly attached ledger boards pulling away from the house, railing failures, and poor design.

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) has established May as “Deck Safety Month.” You can visit their website to download their deck evaluation guide (

The following is a brief summary of components that should be inspected:

  • Ledger boards, support posts, and joists - check for split or decaying wood.
  • Fasteners, bolts, joist hangers - Look for rust/corrosion at all connection points.
  • Deck flashing – check to confirm it is still in place and functioning.
  • Railings and handrails - make sure the posts are firmly connected and can withstand lateral loads. Inspect the baluster spacing. Assure that the hand railing is not frayed and has no splinters.
  • Steps - assure that the stringers are not split/checked and the handrails are still firmly attached.

If you are in doubt, a professional engineer can evaluate your deck design and alert you to potential problems. A licensed general contractor can tell you if your deck meets current building code standards. Call us today and we can help.

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