Demolition carries many of the same hazards that are found in construction. In addition to these risks, demolition also carries the risk of unknown hazards such as asbestos, or lead based paint. Before the demolition process begins OSHA standard 1926.850(a) requires that an engineering survey of the structure must be conducted by a competent person. This survey will give the supervisors and the crew more information about the structural integrity of the building’s frames, walls and floors. It will also give them the information needed to prevent the structure from collapsing prematurely. This engineering survey should also include the location of the nearest hospital in case an injury occurs. Each supervisor should have instructions for the most direct route to the hospital.
Before work begins the demolition area should be clearly marked so that only authorized employees are allowed on the premises. Employees should take time to prepare themselves for the demolition. One way of doing this is to select, inspect and wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Respirators, hearing protections, hard hats, and eye protection are just a few PPE items that may be needed for demolition. A supervisor should inform employees what PPE will be needed for the job. Having the proper fitting PPE gear can help prevent many injuries; although having the proper gear won’t do any good unless it is worn correctly.
An important step in the planning process is locating the utility services. All sewer, water, gas and electric lines need to be shut off and the utility companies need to be notified. If utility lines need to be relocated all workers should be notified of the new location.
If employees are going to be working in a building that has been damaged in the past by fire, flood or other events that may have caused structural damage, make sure that the walls are shored or braced.
Disposing of the debris from a demolition site also takes preparation. OSHA standard 1926.252(a) states that any debris that is dropped more than 20 feet to any point lying outside the exterior walls of a building, an enclosed chute of wood or equivalent material shall be used. A chute is defined as a slide that is closed in on all sides through which material is moved from a high place to a lower one.
When blasting is the method of demolition a qualified person must complete a written survey before the demolition begins. Vibration tests should be conducted to determine safety limits so that nearby structures and property are not damaged. When working with explosives it is important to take precautions to keep fire and sparks away from the explosive materials. When electronic detonators are going to be used radio frequency (RF) signals should not be near the demolition site as these signals can inadvertently trigger the detonator.
These are just a few safety items for construction demolition. Demolition is a dangerous job and measures should be taken to ensure the safety of all employees.
For more information please contact our office at 518-623-2352 or visit our website at www.catamountconsultingllc.com.