Demolition safety is more complicated than in standard construction. Old structures can be weak and unpredictable. Listen to hear tips on demolitions.

Tearing down an old building requires extra prep and caution. In this podcast, Dan Clark tells of common hazards in a demolition.

Dan also urges demolition managers to have a detailed plan, and to communicate the plan to workers daily.


intro music and effects

Demolition_Safety-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Demolition. Construction in reverse. Let’s deconstruct it.

Hello, again. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Teardowns. Deconstruction. Demolition. OSHA calls it “construction in reverse, with additional hazards.” They have a new program that focuses on demolition safety because of recent accidents. Example: the collapse of a four-story teardown in Philadelphia in 2013 that killed six.

Demolition projects must be planned out, and workers need to know what’s happening every step of the way.


* The project supers must do an engineering survey. Assess the walls, floors, and frame of the old building.

* Make sure all utilities are turned off or are capped outside the demo area.

* Make a deconstruction plan that factors hazards and outlines the project steps.


* Weakened building materials. This comes from years of use and modifications.

* Collapsing structural pieces. This comes from what I just mentioned.

* Contaminants. Banned now, but many toxics were used in old work, such as lead, asbestos and mercury.

* Gases from using machinery in areas with poor ventilation.

* Falling objects.

* Falls from heights.

A DEMOLITION PLAN…needs to consider these things:

* Deconstruct from the top down. This may be obvious—you can’t start with the bottom floor.

* Determine how to reinforce walls, if the engineering study says they’re needed.

* Be careful around openings in the floor. Railings may need to be installed.

* Holes in floors should not be more than 25% of the floor’s area.

* Debris chutes should be enclosed.

* You may need extra ventilation.

* PPE should be selected ahead of time.

One of the most important things for a demolition: make sure workers know the plan. At the beginning of every day, talk to workers about the work that will be done. Make sure everybody knows the hazards, and has the required PPE such as respirators, personal fall arrest systems and safety glasses.

That’s all for this episode on Demolition Safety. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. creativesafetysupply.com


Excavator image by Marvin Nauman/FEMA. House image by Liz Roll/FEMA

sounds provided by www.freesfx.co.uk and www.audiosoundclips.com

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