The article deals with the main causes of accidents of buildings and structures that occurred due to errors made at different stages of their life cycle (design, construction, operation). A brief analysis of the accidents that occurred from 2010 to 2017 in the Russian Federation is presented. The study of the causes of accidents makes it possible to understand better the laws of structures, buildings and structures, to identify errors that lead to emergencies. Such errors include: low quality of construction and installation works, deviation from the project in the construction of buildings and structures, the use of materials of inadequate quality, overload of load-bearing structures during operation. Also, the causes of accidents include defective engineering-geological and hydrogeological studies of the grounds. Analysis of accidents showed that the last few years there is no tendency to reduce the number of accidents of buildings and structures, which indicates an insufficient number of measures to prevent them. In the article the authors consider the examples of accidents in construction, which occurred due to the main reasons, and ways to prevent accidents in the future.