Glass-related injuries in Oklahoma City bombing

H. Scott Norville, Natalie Harvill, Edward J. Conrath, Sheryll Shariat, Sue Mallonee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


When a terrorist bomb explodes in an urban area it produces devastating effects, including structural and nonstructural damage to buildings, injuries, and deaths. Numerous injuries in explosions result directly and indirectly from window glass failure. Direct glass-related injuries occur when glass shards flying and falling from fractured windows cause lacerations and abrasions. Secondary glass-related injuries occur when the shock front of the blast wave passes into buildings through fenestrations vacated by fractured glazing. The Oklahoma city bombing killed 167 people and caused numerous injuries. Most of the deaths and many of the injuries occurred in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the target of the bomb. This event focused the attention of the engineering and security communities on two major issues: the prevention of progressive structural collapse and the design of blast-resistant glazing. This paper discusses glass-related injuries that occurred away from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In particular, it provides information concerning locations of glass-related injury victims in other buildings with respect to their position in proximity to outside walls with glazing. Location data indicate that more than one-quarter of the glass-related injury victims in buildings were positioned within 1.5 m (5 ft) of a wall with glazed fenestrations and nearly one-half of the glass-related injury victims were positioned within 3.0 m (10 ft) of a wall with glazed fenestrations. In addition to suffering lacerations and abrasions, a large number of victims in buildings suffered hearing damage because glazing that failed to maintain closure of fenestrations exposed them to the shock front of the blast wave. Consideration of the injury data justifies a requirement for design of blast-resistant glazing to protect building inhabitants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Performance of Constructed Facilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1999


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