PA Premises Liability

PA Premises Liability:  Philadelphia Building Collapse Injury Lawyer discusses Demolition Safety

The Philadelphia building collapse of the 4-story building on Market Street that killed six people and wounded numerous others may have been caused by the demolition company cutting corners.

The four-story enter city Philadelphia building collapse occurred along Market Street.  The Philadelphia building collapse crushed the Salvation Army thrift shop next door causing a cloud of dust to envelope the area and trap victims in the debris.

Demolition contractor Griffin Campbell violated federal safety regulations while building owner Richard Basciano should have picked a more qualified contractor to do the work.  Based on Campbell’s history, the award of this demolition project to Campbell was negligent.  Campbell has been arrested on charges involving drugs, assault and insurance fraud and has had two bankruptcy filings.

The city of Philadelphia needs a stricter application and inspection process for demolition companies.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were at the scene.  Its regulations forbid any wall section exceeding one story to stand alone without bracing, unless the wall was designed that way.  Witnesses saw a 30-foot section of un-braced wall before the collapse.

A video of the demolition taken Sunday showed bricks raining down on the sidewalk as a worker used a backhoe and claw to remove a second-story front wall.  The sidewalk and the staircase leading up from a subway stop appeared open to pedestrians despite the falling bricks.  Cars and trucks could be seen going past a few feet away, violating OSHA regulations stating “no material shall be dropped to any point lying outside the exterior walls of the structure unless the area is effectively protected.”

A permit issued by the city indicated that Campbell was to be paid only $10,000 for the demolition work.  The demolition cost alone should have raised a red flag, given the location and scope of work.

Demolition experts said that at the minimum, Campbell should have asked the Salvation Army to clear out for the most delicate portions of the tear-down. Robert Brehm, a construction engineer who teaches at Drexel University said he would have evacuated the building “not because I expected the wall to fall on the one-story, but it is a predictable outcome. Sometimes it doesn’t fall the way you want it to fall.” If the store had been cleared out, he said, “We wouldn’t be talking.”

Several City Council members called for a review of the demolition application and inspection process. The City of Philadelphia checks the condition of buildings before demolition begins and after the demolition is complete, but it does not require an inspection during demolition. There is no city or state license for demolition contractors and code does not require demolition contractors to show any proficiency in tearing down buildings.


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