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City of Phila. Partners With OSHA To Improve Workplace Safety

(The demolition site at 2136 Market Street, taken by a concerned passerby the day before the deadly collapse.  The Salvation Army thrift store, in which six people were killed, is at far right.  Photo by Laura Mierson.)

(The demolition site at 2136 Market Street, taken by a concerned passerby the day before the deadly collapse. The Salvation Army thrift store, in which six people were killed, is at far right. Photo by Laura Mierson.)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Since the deadly demolition site building collapse in center city one year ago (see related story), the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections has been working more closely with federal workplace safety officials.

In that time, officials say, dozens of workers have been removed from potentially hazardous situations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it has received about fifty referrals from L&I inspectors in the last six months, many of them involving imminent danger, prompting the removal of employees from the work site.

Nick DeJesse, OSHA’s assisstant director for the Philadelphia area, says it’s been a good partnership.

“Our job is to prevent people from getting hurt or getting killed, so if we’re getting more information about individuals who are potentially exposed to hazardous conditions, then we want to address them,” he told KYW Newsradio today.

The referrals have involved excavations — including one on Wednesday where employees were removed from an unshored tunnel — and electric hazards, including one last week where a worker died after being electrocuted.

But the vast majority, DeJesse says, are for employees at risk of falling from elevated areas.  He says falls account for 40 percent of the 6,000 workplace deaths across the US each year.

He urges the public to refer cases, too, noting that passersby documented many of the problems at the center city demolition before the collapse (see top photo).

“If we had some of that information before the collapse, not that I would say we could have prevented it, but we could have had a presence on that site,” he says.

The number to call if you see a problem is 800-321-OSHA.

 

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