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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: November 19, 2013 12:30 PM
From: Representative William F. Keller
To: All House members
Subject: Introduction of Redraft of House Bill 1591 – Increasing Standards for Building Demolition
I will soon be reintroducing a freestanding version of House Bill 1591 to improve public safety and standards for building demolitions. The House Labor and Industry Committee and House Urban Affairs Committee held a joint public hearing on HB 1591, and the new version of this legislation will contain suggested changes from testifiers and experts.

As you know, on June 5, 2013, in Center City Philadelphia, a four-story commercial building under demolition collapsed onto an adjacent one-story building, killing 6 people and injuring 14 others. Investigations into this event largely point to lax public oversight and noncompliance with safety and building codes by contractors and workers. In fact, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently fined the contractors working on this site nearly $400,000 for egregious safety violations.

As in HB 1591, my legislation will raise the bar for demolition work by ensuring that contractors seeking demolition permits are qualified and competent and comply with site-safety requirements for workers and the general public. The standards set forth for demolitions by this legislation would be mandatory for Philadelphia and state buildings but optional for all other municipalities.

Specifically, my legislation would:
  • Create “the Demolition Safety Act.”
  • Require the PA Department of Labor and Industry to annually review the qualifications of local inspectors and building code officials.
  • Require site inspections before demolition permits may be issued and during demolition work.
  • Allow adoption of demolition and safety standards that exceed the current statewide building code.
  • Require contractors seeking a demolition permit to, at minimum:
    • provide identifying information as well as work history or training and educational experience;
    • identify subcontractors and any portion of work they may be hired to complete; certify that workers operating equipment have completed industry standard training;
    • maintain a substance abuse testing policy;
    • submit building plans and demolition schedules prepared by architects or engineers;
    • maintain site-safety plans that meet or exceed OSHA requirements;
    • maintain liability insurance and post surety bonds; and
    • notify neighboring property owners and occupants of demolition plans.
  • Authorize an additional fee on building permits to fund additional training and staffing of inspectors.
  • Require existing education programs for building code officials to include OSHA training in construction industry safety and health hazard recognition.

I hope that you will offer your continued support for this important legislation. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions.

Current co-sponsors of HB 1591: M. Daley, Clay, Miranda, K. Boyle, Harkins, Davis, McGeehan, Schlossberg, O’Brien, Boback, Kotik, Godshall, Gibbons, Rock, Rozzi, Killion, Caltagirone, Harhai, Brownlee, Pashinski, Sabatina, Cruz, Gingrich, D. Costa, Cohen, Murt, Clymer, Carroll, Parker, Sims, Galloway, Donatucci, DeLuca, Quinn, and Watson

Introduced as HB1877