Between 2009 and 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than 1,000 citations for demolition safety violations. The demolition industry is chock full of unique dangers and hazards that need to be planned for on every job site.
While all of OSHA’s construction safety regulations (like fall hazards, toxic substance, and electrocution) also apply to demolition there are many regulations that uniquely pertain to demolition. These unique regulations deal with the unpredictability of demolishing a structure.
- Structural design changes that happened during construction
- Modifications that altered the building’s original design
- Materials like: asbestos, silica, lead, and other hazardous chemicals or substances that may be hidden and need special care
There are several other hazards that can result based on the specific method of demolition used.
To help demolition companies prepare for the various risks, OSHA created several standards in Subpart T of 29 CFR Part 1926. This section details safety protocol for several common high-risk situations:
- Removing walls, floors, and material with equipment
- Using chutes
- Manually removing floors
- Using stairs, ladders, and passageways
- Planning for demolition work
- Removing steel construction
- Obeying mechanical demolition requirements
- Using explosives for selective demolition
- Removing masonry sections, walls, and chimneys
- Correctly storing demolition and waste materials
- Removing building materials through floor openings
The best way to mitigate demolition hazards is to follow three steps – Plan, Provide, and Train.
Plan- properly assess the site every time and always have contingency plans in case of an emergency.
Provide- Make sure all employees are outfitted with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
Train- Every employee needs to know what OSHA mandates and what the company procedures are.