The U.S. Labor Dept.’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations and proposed fines for two individuals involved in a June 5 Philadelphia building collapse, which killed six people and injured 14.
Griffin Campbell, doing business as Campbell Construction, and Sean Benschop, doing business as S&R Contracting, both of Philadelphia, have 15 days to contest the citations, David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, told reporters on Nov. 14.
“If the two employers had followed very obvious and very basic safety precautions … no lives would have been lost,” Michaels said. After an exhaustive investigation, OSHA issued a total of 12 citations between the two companies and proposed penalties of $313,000 for Campbell Construction and $84,000 for S&R Contracting.
Some of the citations were categorized as "willful," meaning that the violations were committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or with indifference to worker safety and health.
According to a Labor Dept. spokeswoman, the proposed fines are much larger than those OSHA proposes for most construction cases. In fiscal year 2013, OSHA conducted more than 20,000 construction inspections but proposed only 28 fines exceeding $100,000, she said.
Campbell Construction was the contractor and S&R Contracting the subcontractor on the project to demolish a four-story facility, known as the “Hoagie City” building, adjacent to a Salvation Army thrift store.
The two firms demonstrated a “deliberate neglect of demolition fundamentals” and of OSHA regulations, Michaels said. The agency said that, on the three days leading up to the collapse, Campbell Construction removed critical structural supports for the wall that collapsed. OSHA demolition standards prohibit the removal of lateral support walls more than one story high.
Campbell Construction also removed parts of the lower floors prior to the demolition of the upper floors, OSHA said. Domenick Salvatore, director of OSHA’s Philadelphia-area office, said standard industry practice and OSHA regulations require that each story of a building be removed before lower floors can be demolished.
Attorneys for Campbell and Benschop, who could not be reached in time for the publication of this article on Nov. 14, have claimed previously that their clients are not responsible for the collapse.