Earlier this month, an owner of a catering company was driving down Demonbreun Street to work when a brick wall crashed on top of her catering truck. The wall came from the old Methodist Publishing House during its second day of demolition, causing the construction accident. Witnesses told WKRN-TV she received head lacerations and other injuries. Officials have confirmed the driver has been injured during the collapse, though her injuries are non-life threatening.
A construction worker participating in the demolition insists no explosives were used during the demolition, however, when the crews were pulling the collapsed portion of the building down, debris from the wall fell the wrong way and into the road.
DID THE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CAUSE THIS ACCIDENT?
Residents in the area advocate the construction company should have done more to shield the surrounding area from any wayward debris, such as put up barriers or divert traffic away from the demolition site. However, the demolition resumed the very next day and no changes were made to protect the public area around the building. Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) began their investigation, but told reporters it will only issue a stop order if the investigation finds any safety violations (which could take up to eight weeks).
This is not the demolition company’s first run-in with TOSHA. Demo Plus, Inc. has been cited on three separate occasions, two of which were last April. They were fined for violating the respiratory protection standard, hazard communication standard and failing to provide proper retraining on hazardous chemicals every year. The company was only fined $300 in total. The company’s representatives say the violations were not serious citations, the company simply did not have all the documented material for safety information on the job site. However, failing to provide safety materials seems like a more serious violation than the company’s representatives are willing to admit.
Furthermore, TOSHA requires contractors to have an engineering plan with the engineer on-site in order to demolish a building. At the moment it is unclear whether or not this was the case. If there was an engineering plan, it was not a very effective one.
RESIDENTS DESERVE ASSURANCE THAT CONTRACTORS ARE PROVIDING SAFE ENVIRONMENTS
With this recent disaster that could have resulted in much more serious consequences, residents are now questioning the safety of other construction sites, especially given the sheer volume of recent construction in the city.
TOSHA should be doing more to halt the demolition during the investigation to see if Demo Plus, Inc. has violated any further safety standards. Not doing so continues to put the public in danger.
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15