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Building collapse claims at least 6 lives

Construction work and demolition is often dangerous work. Because this is a widely known fact, contractors, subcontractors and property owners have a duty to make sure that the construction site is safe for workers as well as safe for bystanders in adjoining properties.

All too often, a miscalculation or a lack of proper supervision leads to a serious construction accident. According to recent reports, it may have been a lack of supervision and planning that led to a building collapse on Wednesday, which killed at least six people and injured more than a dozen others.

According to the New York Daily News, witnesses said that demolition workers in the four-story structure were being careless before the building crumbled. To compound matters, this building was in a densely developed section of downtown Philadelphia and was surrounded by other structures.

Immediately next-door was a Salvation Army thrift shop, which was occupied that morning as customers milled in and out. Unfortunately, that thrift shop was directly in the path of the rubble caused by the 10:45 a.m. collapse. The falling bricks and materials landed squarely on the thrift store’s roof, destroying the building and trapping people inside.

Rescuers worked all day to free people from the rubble, freeing one person as late as midnight the following day.

According to construction workers on other projects in the neighborhood, the methods used to demolish the now-collapsed building were unsound. One roofer reported seeing workers haphazardly knocking bricks off of the structure. Another construction worker saw the collapse and reported seeing a crane remove a supporting beam before the wall next to the thrift store began to sway. A third witness reported seeing a backhoe strike the back of the building right about the same time. Moments later, six lives were lost. 

Source: New York Daily News, “Building collapse in downtown Philadelphia: 6 dead, 14 injured,” Daniel Beekman and Michael Walsh, June 5, 2013

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