The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today confirmed the agency’s investigation of the Center City building collapse that left six people dead and injured 13 others has concluded, with no additional fines being levied against any of the other entities involved in the collapse, including the Salvation Army.
During the five month long investigation, OSHA interviewed and took oral depositions from numerous people involved in the collapse, but only two, Griffin Campbell and Sean Benschop were penalized by the agency.
OSHA cited Campbell and Benschop last month, and applied maximum fines -- a $313,000 penalty for Griffin Campbell and Campbell Construction, and a $84,000 penalty for Sean Benschop and S&R Contracting -- for a number of egregious and willful violations found prior to the June 5 collapse. The violations included a failure to demolish the building from the top down and leaving an unsupported wall more than one story high.
Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, who is handling several civil lawsuits related to the building collapse, said he was not surprised by OSHA’s decision not to penalize other parties involved in the collapse including, The Salvation Army or developer Richard Basciano and his company STB Investments.
“OSHA would not have jurisdiction to cite The Salvation Army since they weren’t doing construction at the site. The building owner did not have employees on the site at the time of the collapse; OSHA also would not have jurisdiction to cite them. So it does not surprise us that OSHA did not cite them,” Mongeluzzi said.
“What we should not forget is that whether OSHA cites or does not cite is inadmissible in any court and is irrelevant to whether or not any parties involved are innocent.”
Campbell's construction company was hired to demolish the four-story building at 2136 Market Street, where on the morning of June 5, the building's western wall collapsed into a Salvation Army thrift store burying its occupants in rubble.
According to investigators with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, an excavator operator working for Campbell, Sean Benschop a.k.a. Kary Roberts, was allegedly high on drugs while operating heavy machinery on the demolition site. Benschop is currently behind bars and faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment.
OSHA says the fines against Campbell and Benschop were based on an inspection that was initiated prior to the collapse, on May 15.
According to OSHA, both companies were given 15 days to respond to the citations. S&R Construction contested the citations shortly after they were issued, on Nov. 21; and Campbell Construction filed to contest the citations on Dec. 4.