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OSHA Finds Collapse of Building in Philadelphia was Preventable

Last week, federal workplace regulators said that “deliberate neglect” by 2 Philadelphia contractors caused the collapse of a building in Center City that killed 6 people in June.

According to an article on Philly.com, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) brought fines of nearly $400,000 against the two companies. In the article, the assistant U.S. secretary of labor for occupational safety and health is quoted as saying that the contractors “sacrificed worker and public safety through the deliberate neglect of demolition safety fundamentals. This tragic incident could and should have been prevented.”

The accident took place on June 5, when the 4-story building was going to be demolished. After most of the flooring inside the building had been removed, a brick wall located on the west side of the building collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store. The thrift store was located next to the building that was being demolished, and remained open during the demolition. There were 6 people inside the store that were killed and 14 others that were injured.

According to OSHA, the willful violations included: failing to prepare an engineering study for the demolition project; disobeying a rule requiring higher stories to be removed before demolition begins on lower floors; and removing lateral bracing, provided by the floors, to support walls more than one story high. The fine for removal of the lateral bracing was brought against the companies twice, for each day that the violation took place, because OSHA considered it such an “egregious” violation of safety regulations.

Attorneys for the contractors are denying the allegations of safety violations and plan to contest the findings.