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

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.