Philadelphia

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ANNOUNCES NEW DEMOLITION STANDARDS AND INITIATIVES

Friday, June 7, 2013                                
                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ANNOUNCES NEW DEMOLITION STANDARDS AND INITIATIVES
 
Philadelphia, June 7, 2013 –
Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Department of Licenses
and Inspections (L&I) announced new initiatives for demolition
sites and contractors, including new standards for demolition permit
issuance and demolition site inspection, new internal audit processes,
and recommendations for code and regulatory changes,
all designed to ensure the safety of private demolition sites
throughout the City of Philadelphia.
“The
City and the Department of Licenses and Inspections are dedicated to
building and construction safety and to the safety of all of citizens of
the City of Philadelphia,”
said Mayor Nutter. “After the tragic events of this week, it is
necessary to implement the same heightened controls on private
demolition activity that we have on public demolitions to ensure
continued safety.”
The
new initiatives place additional requirements on demolition contractors
and contain specific penalties for contractors who violate these
requirements. 
“The
Department’s heightened permitting, inspection, and review requirements
will ensure that all private demolition sites are safe for adjacent
properties, pedestrians,
and site workers,” said Department of Licenses and Inspections
Commissioner Carlton Williams.
Effective immediately:
All
inspectors were ordered to visit all sites with active demolition
permits to proactively inspect for site safety conditions and any other
possible violations.
All
new permit applications for complete demolition must include the
following documents and requirements prior to issuance of the permit:
  1. Details
    on the experience and qualifications of the contractor performing the
    demolition including demolition experience of the owner
    and the company.
  2. A site-safety plan detailing how the contractor proposes to protect pedestrians and adjacent properties.
  3. A schedule of the demolition work. Contractor will show length of time for each stage of the project.
  4. Professional Engineer’s report on adjacent property protection for demolition of commercial buildings above three stories.
  5. No active violations for contractor and review of all previous violations.
The following procedures will be implemented for demolition inspections;
1.     
Initial
Inspections: Require the inspector to conduct a site safety review with
the contractor prior to the start of work to review steps for
protecting adjacent
properties and pedestrians. Inspector to review schedule of work with
the contractor during each inspection to ensure compliance.
2.     
No
contact from contractor: If the required notification of the start of
work is not received from the contractor, the inspector will visit the
site every 15
business days from the permit’s date of issuance.  The permit will be
revoked after 45 days if there is no evidence of legitimate work started
at the permitted demolition site.
3.     
Failure
to notify Department of start: If we find the contractor working
without the required notification, the inspector will issue a Stop Work
Order until
a hearing is held regarding the contractor’s failure and the site
safety review is completed with the inspector and the contractor.
4.     
Complaints
regarding demolition activity. The Department of L & I will
investigate all complaints within a 24-48 hour period and provide a
detailed report to
include; the nature of the complaint, an explanation of the findings,
determination of compliance, a time and date stamped photo of all site
visits and inspections.
5.     
The
Department will immediately implement a quality assurance plan, setting
forth the policies and practices that ensure that all site inspections
and complaints
are performed timely and accurately. The procedure also establishes
regular management level analysis of internal audit findings to assess
the organization’s overall level of conformance, with the ultimate goal
of identifying and correcting areas of nonconformance
and inefficiency, and engaging staff in improving processes and
procedures.
6.     
The
Department of L&I will coordinate with the Department of Revenue to
ensure that all demolition contractors and/or subcontractors provide
proof of the following:
proper insurance and tax clearances for all employees before any
building permit is approved.
The
Department will issue a Code Bulletin to stipulate that demolition
activities must follow similar requirements as City-funded demolitions
regarding protection of adjacent
buildings, i.e. no use of heavy machinery for attached building
demolitions.
The
Department is implementing a Construction Site Task Force with primary
responsibilities of ensuring proper licensing, permitting and tax
compliance of the primary
contractor, subcontractor, or any independent contractors and workers
related to the demolition project. Funding for this initiative has
already been allocated in the FY14 budget beginning July 1, 2013.
The
Construction Site Task Force will coordinate with other city agencies
including the Department of Revenue, Law and the Office of the Inspector
General to audit and
strictly enforce all provisions related to work site safety and tax
compliance in accordance with the Philadelphia Code and the Board of
Labor Standards to ensure area wage rates and standards are being
upheld. Any evidence of violation will lead to an immediate
suspension of the permit and the project will be discontinued until the
contractor and related parties fully comply.
Recommendations
  1. Failure
    to call for inspection – implement a Stop Work Order with a $1000
    inspection fee which must be paid before work may continue.
  2. Establish
    a separate license category for demolition contractors and allow
    issuance of demolition permits only to those with this license.
    Establish testing and experience requirements.
  3. Consider
    imposing a code requirement for background checks and for contractors
    to provide random drug screening for heavy equipment operators
    on demolition sites as part of the site safety inspection.
  4. All
    licensed contractors will be notified that they will be required to
    provide proof of experience and qualification prior to obtaining
    a demolition permit.