Southeastern PA

Pennsylvania House committees hold hearing on building collapse in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania House lawmakers are considering stricter regulations on demolition projects in the wake of a building collapse that killed six people in Philadelphia.

The Labor & Industry and Urban Affairs committees heard testimony Tuesday in Philadelphia on the measure to include new mandates in the state's existing uniform construction code.

"Pennsylvania lost six loved ones as a result of this careless demolition project that could have occurred in any community across the commonwealth," said Pa. Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe Co. "The type of legislation we're examining today is needed to enhance public and worker safety standards for building demolitions."

One provision would require all applicants to obtain $1 million in liability insurance. Another would require that licensed architects or building engineers prepare all applications.

"While no formal blame has been placed, accounts of the June 5 event largely point to little public oversight and regulation of private demolition contractors, as well as lack of compliance with safety and building codes by the contractor and its workers," said Pa. Rep. William Keller, D-Philadelphia.

Representatives from trade organizations and unions objected to some of the proposals, saying they would be costly and could be ineffective. Some also said new regulations won't help if no one enforces them.

At a City Council hearing last month, officials said the city isn't responsible for the work done by contractors on private property.

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