Two Salvation Army employees were among the six individuals killed following a building collapse in Philadelphia. A four-story building next to the thrift store was in the process of being demolished when it tumbled over, trapping workers. Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation shortly after the building collapse.
OSHA had received a previous complaint alleging that parts of the structure being demolished were in danger of prematurely falling. An inspection of the company’s other construction sites, following the building collapse, found safety hazards that shut down two of the other construction sites. City regulations require wall sections to have bracing during the demolition process, unless the wall was originally designed without bracing. A video posted online, taken before the collapse, shows bricks cascading down while workers removed a front wall. The sidewalk below appeared to be open to pedestrian traffic, despite falling debris.
Some demolition experts have questioned the company’s decision not to tell the thrift store to clear out during the riskier parts of the demolition process. While an inspection of the site prior to demolition showed no signs of an unsafe working environment, the owner of the company involved with the project had prior legal and insurance issues. A situation like this is a prime example of possible employer negligence. Unsafe working conditions, especially at a demolition site, could increase the odds of a workplace accident for employees involved with the work.
Pennsylvania laws regarding demolition vary per city. Philadelphia, for instance, requires inspections before and after demolition. However, no inspection is required during the actual demolition process. Workers at the site could, however, have a case for workplace negligence if OSHA standards and city regulations weren’t followed during the building’s demolition.
Source: WPXI, “2 Salvation Army workers die in Pa. bldg collapse”, June 06, 2013