Blog

 
     

Contractor with Criminal Background Charged in Deadly Building Collapse

By Michael Klazema on 6/18/2013

The actions of a contractor with a criminal record allegedly contributed to a deadly building collapse in Philadelphia on June 5.

The contractor in question, Sean Benschop, was hired by general contractor Griffin Campbell to operate a backhoe on a demolition project at 2136 Market Street in Philadelphia. According to witnesses, Benschop was using the backhoe to remove debris from the fourth floor of the building being demolished when the backhoe arm apparently hit a support beam and caused a wall to collapse outward onto the roof of the neighboring Salvation Army Thrift Store. Six people were killed and 13 more were injured when the roof of the store collapsed under the weight of the fallen wall.

An investigation revealed that Benschop had marijuana in his system on the day of the collapse, and Benschop admitted that he had been taking Percocet to relieve pain from a prior injury.

Had a criminal background check been run on Benschop before employment, his predisposition for abusing drugs might have been exposed to his employer. Benschop was convicted three times since 1994 for possession of controlled substances. Though sources say he had a good reputation as a backhoe operator and had frequently worked on projects throughout the city as an independent contractor over a period of 13 years, his criminal background should have raised some red flags. At the very least he could have been supervised more carefully and perhaps subjected to random drug tests by the general contractor employing him.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for the primary employer to keep track of all the subcontractors that their general contractor may employ and ensure that they all receive proper background checks. In this case, the general contractor, Griffin Campbell, also had a criminal record. He was convicted of theft and insurance fraud in 2009. Although Campbell did have a valid contractors’ license, he also owed the city, state, and federal government thousands in back taxes.

When using contractors, employers would do well to protect themselves from unwise hiring decisions on the contractor’s part using a service like the VendorSAFE program from backgroundchecks.com. This service allows employers to implement a screening program modelled after the one they use for internal hires and deploy it free of charge to them to their community of vendors and contractors. This service extends the steps an employer can take to reduce the chances of negligent hiring and workplace crime incidents.

In response to this tragic accident, city officials have halted work at Campbell’s other demolition sites and begun re-inspecting hundreds of other sites across the city. They also plan to implement changes in demolition and construction regulations to hopefully prevent contractors from skimping on safety to avoid some of the high costs of doing business in the city. The city council also called for better coordination between city departments so that unscrupulous and non-tax-paying contractors like Campbell could be identified sooner.

Sean Benschop has been arrested and is currently awaiting a hearing scheduled for June 26. He will be charged with 13 counts of reckless endangerment, six counts of involuntary manslaughter, and one count of risking a catastrophe.

About backgroundchecks.com

Founded during the Internet boom in 1999 by an executive in both the staffing and information industry, backgroundchecks.com – a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has been able to create a service that provides a blend of flexible screening programs that included instant, cost effective and comprehensive solutions. Our experience in database modeling of public records information has led Backgroundchecks.com to become the leader in the acquisition and delivery of public records information by harnessing the power and technology of the Internet. To learn more visit www.backgroundchecks.com.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/philadelphia-building-collapse-sean-benschop_n_3414640.html

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/09/18867423-worker-arrested-in-philadelphia-building-collapse-had-long-criminal-record?lite

Author:


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 20 The #MeToo movement is bringing about legislative changes employers need to know about. We review some of the laws recently passed in California.
  • November 19

    Will a criminal conviction show up on your background check forever? In most states, there is a year limit for how long background check companies can report older criminal information.


  • November 15

    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 


  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 12 To ensure the best hires, DFWSPF has implemented a stringent employee screening process—one that includes background searches through backgroundchecks.com.