The construction accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are following the harrowing details of a Philadelphia building collapse that occurred earlier this week. The tragedy struck South Philadelphia as an apparent gas explosion led to the collapse of several attached row houses on Daly Street. At least eight people, including young children, were hospitalized with one victim listed in critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.
While the collapse of a building presents a potentially fatal hazard under any circumstances, the risks are multiplied exponentially in densely populated urban settings such as New York City or Philadelphia. As photographs of the affected buildings in South Philadelphia show, the neighborhood looks strikingly similar to many areas in Brooklyn, the Bronx and parts of Queens such as Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Long Island City. Residential neighborhoods with attached or “row” houses are the trademark architecture of blue collar urban neighborhoods.
Sadly, this sort of housing can place an entire block at risk in the event of building collapse or fire. Many of these neighborhoods in New York City have were originally constructed almost 100 years ago. What that means is many of these homes are run down and dilapidated due to wear and tear. When common support walls weaken and electrical wiring frays, the risks of collapse and fire are ever more prevalent.
Another dynamic that further elevates the risk to residents in these areas is that the age and wear of many of these homes means some are undergoing full gut demolition and renovation. As is far too often the case in residential renovation projects, general contractors and building developers cut corners and hire laborers without proper OSHA credentials. These same contractors and developers will rush through a job rather than taking the time to fully assess the safety concerns. The result is workers being put in life threatening situations without the necessary safety equipment.
As contractors cut corners to keep residential renovation projects on schedule in densely populated New York City neighborhoods, old floor beams and old support walls are torn down without proper bracing and without providing the workers with necessary safety equipment such as hoists, safety harnesses, lifelines, and perimeter safety fencing. Old staircases are removed and gaping holes are left in the partially demolished floors while demolition workers, carpenters, plumbers and other tradesmen do their best to stay on schedule and stay out of each other’s way.
As noted above, many of these hard working laborers are unable to voice their concerns about the conditions on the site. They know all too well that complaining gets them thrown off the job. They know they are easily replaced by someone that will keep their mouth shut. The silence about these unsafe work continues can’t continue. Lives are at stake.
The building collapse lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy pride themselves on being familiar with New York City’s densely populated neighborhoods and streets. We also pride ourselves in helping seriously injured victims of construction accidents. Our record of verdicts and settlements demonstrates our commitment to helping those in need. To learn more about the trial lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, please see our website at www.blockotoole.com. For a free consultation, you can call 212.736.5300.
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Source: New York Daily News, Eight injured in building collapse in South Philadelphia,: Jul. 29, 20913.