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June 5th, 2013

Philadelphia Demolition Accident – At Least One Woman Killed

June 25, 2013 update:

Philadelphia’s building collapse which occurred on June 5 resulted in the deaths of 6 people – workers at the Salvation Army as well as shoppers inside the store. As many as 14 people were injured, many of them have been seriously injured. One woman lost both legs after being trapped for 13 hours in the rubble. (Source: http://abclocal.go.com, Workers sift through rubble of Center City building collapse).

Since the tragedy, the inspector from Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections committed suicide and the heavy equipment operator who operated demolition equipment just prior to the collapse now faces multiple criminal charges in connection with allegations he was under the influence of drugs while operating the equipment.

Original Article:

*For immediate release

Earlier today, a four-story building collapsed onto a one-story retail building in downtown Philadelphia, killing at least one and injuring several others. According to multiple on-line news articles, the four-story building was in the process of being demolished when part of it collapsed the wrong way – onto a Salvation Army retail store. Employees of the store as well as shoppers were trapped in the rubble.

Multiple witnesses indicated that the building wall looked insecure of the past few days and weeks. At least one witness indicated that 30 feet of wall was unsecured and waiting to fall.

Another witness indicated that he saw a crane remove a supporting beam from the front side of the building and then the wall which ultimately fell started swaying. Another witness said that around the same time, a backhoe hit the rear of the building. Scroll down below to see a picture of store before the accident occurred.

Demolition Sites Are Inherently Dangerous

For obvious reasons, demolitions are very dangerous. Accidents can and do occur. Not only can building collapse accidents occur, like the one in Philadelphia, but workers on the site can be injured in fall accidents. For instance, floors may collapse onto other floors, causing workers to fall or otherwise become injured.

Common Problems Which Result in Demolition Site Accidents

Common problems which may result in demolition accidents include:

  • failure to brace or shore up weakened walls and floors,
  • creating structural instability by improperly removing load supports,
  • failure to use barricades where material/debris drop areas,
  • allowing workers to access areas where unsupported/unshored structural collapse hazards exist, and
  • failure to conduct inspections by a competent person.

As a result of any work related accident resulting in death, OSHA will conduct an investigation to determine if any negligence or wrong doing led to the accident.

The area of the demolition accident in 2009.
The area of the demolition accident in 2009.