Demolition site accident prompts OSHA investigation

California readers may have heard about a recent building collapse that made national news. The accident occurred during a scheduled morning demolition. The collapsing structure reportedly fell into a neighboring store, trapping some customers and employees in the rubble. At least thirteen people were injured.

According to one industry commentator from the California Polytechnic State University, building demolitions don’t always go as planned. The commentator, who is a civil engineer, says there are standard procedures that apply to building demolitions. Unfortunately, he suspects that human miscalculation may be the culprit.

The commentator is not alone in his suspicions. Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are also investigating the accident scene to determine if the demolition company failed to take reasonable safety precautions or follow proper procedures. If that investigation reveals negligence, the company may be fined, in addition to paying the benefits mandated by its workers’ compensation policy to any workers who sustained on-the-job injuries from the incident.

In this particular case, the demolition didn’t appear to be complicated. For example, no explosives were involved. Rather, the scheduled demolition was to be performed only with a ball and crane. However, if the responsible parties didn’t analyze the structure correctly, they may have prematurely knocked out a wall, causing the structure to fall in the wrong direction.

However, the reconstruction of the demolition accident may involve disputed theories. The OSHA investigation may also take many months. In the meantime, injured workers might encounter resistance in seeking lost wages and payment for their medical bills. In that regard, an attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation law might provide assistance.

Source:, “Why Do Building Collapses Like Philadelphia's Happen?” Ker Than, June 5, 2013

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