Officials are calling it a “bungled demolition.”
Demolition workers in Philadelphia were reportedly tearing down an empty, four-story building when the structure collapsed onto a nearby thrift store, trapping numerous people inside, killing six and injuring 14.
Our New York City construction accident lawyers understand that several witnesses indicated the demolition workers were being “careless,” and questions were raised prior to the collapse of how closely they were being monitored and supervised. A construction worker on a job across the street was quoted as saying as soon as he saw a support beam removed, be braced for the impact and looked on in horror as the building began to sway.
Authorities with the U.S. Occupation Health & Safety Administration have launched an investigation, which could take up to six months to complete.
Although the horrific scene has garnered national headlines, demolition-related injuries are common in the construction industry. In fact, New York City has had more than its share of these type of incidents in the past.
Back in 2011, scaffolding that had been erected at a five-story, brick building on West 125th Street that was set for demolition crashed onto the street below and onto a bus, injuring 17 people. Amazingly, none of those individuals suffered life-threatening injuries, though several were transported to a nearby Harlem hospital. At that site, workers had the proper permits, though inspectors were called to the site for reported issues just a few days before the incident. However, inspectors found no violations at that time.
And in 2007 at the Ground Zero site, workers were conducting a demolition of portions of the Deutsche Bank structure when a worker lost control of his forklift, sending it plunging more than 200 feet to the ground. The forklift crashed through a worker-erected roof and onto the ground floor. Two firefighters standing underneath that roof suffered head injuries when pieces of rubble came tumbling down.
In 2005, a Brooklyn supermarket that was being demolished to make way for a high-rise structure partially collapsed during the work, causing injury to five people – including a baby. Most of those injured suffered broken bones.
In 2000, two construction workers were seriously injured after a partially-demolished portion of the New York Coliseum collapsed, trapping the workers under the concrete and steel. Both suffered cuts, bruises and leg injuries, though investigators were surprised it wasn’t worse, given the extent of the damage.
In the case of the recent Philadelphia collapse, construction industry witnesses said they feared for weeks that something of this nature would happen, due to the way the demolition was reportedly being carried out. One roofer noted that workers were standing on the edge, simply knocking bricks off without appearing to have a strategic method that would prevent a potential collapse.
While workers certainly have a responsibility to adhere to proper safety procedures, this assumes they have been properly trained, given the correct tools and appropriately supervised. Unfortunately, we know that’s all too often not the case.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
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