OSHA Cites Contractors in Philadelphia Building Collapse

November 14, 2013

OSHA has cited Griffin Campbell, doing business as Campbell Construction, and Sean Benschop, doing business as S&R Contracting, for safety violations following the June 5, 2013 building collapse that killed six people and injured 14. Campbell Construction faces penalties of $313,000, while proposed penalties for S&R Contracting total $84,000.

Campbell Construction was demolishing the four-story building known as the “Hoagie City” building adjacent to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, located at the 2100 block of Market Street in Philadelphia. S&R Contracting was operating the building’s interior walls and floors.

“Campbell Construction and S&R Contracting sacrificed worker and public safety through the deliberate neglect of demolition safety fundamentals,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “This tragic incident could and should have been prevented.”

On the three days leading up to the collapse, Campbell Construction removed critical, structural supports for the wall that collapsed. The OSHA demolition standards prohibit the removal of lateral support walls more than one story high, leaving the wall unsupported. Campbell Construction also removed parts of the lower floors prior to the removal of the upper floors, contrary to the OSHA standards. Campbell Construction also failed to provide an engineering survey as promised. 

As a result, Campbell Construction has been cited for three willful, egregious violations for each day that it left the wall without sufficient lateral support, and two willful violations alleging the failures to demolish the building from the top down and to have an engineering survey by a competent person on the possibility of collapse prior to starting the demolition. S&R Contracting has been cited for one willful violation. 

Additionally, Campbell Construction was cited for serious violations for the company’s failures to provide: employees with hard hats when there was a possible risk of head injury; fall protection for employees working on surfaces at least six feet high; training on fall hazards; and adequate personal fall arrest systems. Campbell Construction also failed to inspect all stairs periodically and to maintain them in a clean, safe condition. S&R Contracting was cited for two serious violations for failing to protect employees from falling through holes and to provide fall hazard training. 

Public hearings following the collapse suggested the City may not have been enforcing existing regulations regarding demolition work. 

Authorities charged Benschop with six counts of manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment. Benschop was allegedly under the influence of marijuana at the time of the incident and is currently being held on $1.6 million bail.