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Changes Recommended In Wake Of Philadelphia Building Collapse

In the wake of the tragic Philadelphia building collapse that occurred in June and left six people dead and many others seriously injured, a committee of City Council members has recommended many changes to the current methods in place for regulating demolitions and other construction projects.

The July building collapse occurred when a portion of a building under demolition collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store next door. The City Council committee also noted that there were three other demolition and construction accidents in the two months after the highly-publicized June incident.

“Each of these project sites was permitted and inspected by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections,” the City Council committee said in its report. “The unavoidable conclusion was that the city’s permitting and inspection process fell short of what was necessary to protect the public.”

Declaring that safety has to be the No. 1 priority, the City Council committee recommended a total of 71 improvements that it deemed “both workable and essential if the city is to avoid future catastrophes.” Most of the recommendations were unanimously backed by the City Council members.

Included within the recommendations are site-safety plans for every demolition project, safety training requirements for all workers at demolition sites, a site-safety manager at demolition sites involving buildings more than three stories high and changes to inspection policies at the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Currently, the Department of Licenses and Inspections has a policy that allows inspectors to handle many different construction-related issues but the City Council’s recommendations encourage individual inspectors to focus on areas of expertise.

A personal injury attorney who is representing several people who were injured or lost loved ones in the collapse said that he supports the committee’s recommendations but feels that a few additional ones are necessary to prevent something similar from happening again.

The committee based its recommendations on information that was gathered over the course of several hearings that were held this summer. The hearings included testimony from dozens of witnesses, city officials and construction industry experts.

Source: Philly.com, “Council panel recommends reforms in response to collapse,” Bob Warner, Sept. 28, 2013