Philly Construction Workers Injured

A wooden platform at a construction site in Philadelphia collapsed yesterday, injuring eight workers.

A wooden platform at a construction site in Philadelphia collapsed yesterday, injuring eight people, some of whom were briefly trapped under a pile of wood, steel rods and tons of wet concrete.

One worker was in critical condition and two others in very serious condition following the 8:30 a.m. accident at the Regional Performing Arts Center construction site, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Executive Fire Chief Henry Dolberry said it appeared a platform gave way, sending the men and debris into the wet concrete being poured to build a ramp for an underground parking garage. It was unclear how far they fell.

"One man I heard fell 40 feet, because you have the structure above the hole, several floors of steel, plus the pit," said fire Capt. Armand Gersbach. "It's lucky no one was killed."

He described the injuries as "broken back, broken legs, that type of injury." At least five men were briefly trapped in the debris before they could be rescued by firefighters.

"I saw everyone running over when it fell," said worker Paul Henkel. "Everything fell right on top of the guys. Some of them were buried pretty deep under the concrete."

Two hours after the accident, firefighters could still be seen combing the debris.

"The construction manager stated that all his people are accounted for, but we're not taking any chances," Dolberry told The Inquirer. "We're going back in to ensure everyone is out."

The 435,000-square-foot center will house a 2,500-seat cello-shaped concert hall for the Philadelphia Orchestra and a separate 650-seat recital theater. Work on the $245 million center began in November 1998 and is scheduled to be completed in 2001.

Several workers told the paper that inspectors from OSHA completed an examination of the site just last week and gave its condition an approval.

"This company is very safe and the job has been run very safe," Henkel said.

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