An unusually large contingent of two dozen state House members showed up at Penn's Landing Tuesday to hear from construction industry and union leaders on ways to improve safety standards throughout the state, particularly in Philadelphia.
The hearing by the House Urban Affairs Committee,at the Independence Seaport Museum, was spurred by the June 5 demolition accident that killed six people at 22nd and Market streets, when a four-story brick wall collapsed on a Salvation Army thrift store.
"We want to develop sound public policy which, God willing, will prevent anything like this from ever happening again," said Mario Scavello, R-Monroe County, the committee chairman.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Bill Keller of South Philadelphia, sponsored a bill June 27 to require the city to beef up demolition requirements for any projects involving commercial and multi-family buildings.
Keller said the measure would require a licensed architect or engineer to develop a demolition plan and add 15 percent to license fees to improve training for city inspectors.
Michael R. Taylor, executive director of the National Demolition Association, an 800-member group based in Doylestown, described the industry as having a strong safety record, averaging just one fatality for every 1 million man-hours of work.
"If you make a mistake you're going to be out of business," Taylor said, describing various insurance and financial concerns that would drive responsible contractors to focus on safety.
Fatalities involving the general public, like those on June 5, are unprecedented, Taylor said.
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