A good way to describe demolition is doing construction in reverse, but with added risks. Demolition comes with the same risks as construction – heavy machinery, working on high elevations, and a hands-on methodology. However, demolition comes with a few added hazards like falling objects and the looming fear of the unknown. The latter risk factor is the hardest hurdle to overcome and comes in many forms:
- Strength of materials
- Undocumented design changes made during construction
- Remodeling or renovations made without permits
- Hazardous materials like lead paint or asbestos
To ensure we don’t fall victim to these hazards, we use a three-step process: Plan, Provide, and Prepare.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. These are words to live (or at least not get hurt) by in the demolition world. Before any boots get on the ground we make sure we have a detailed plan for how the structure will be coming down, who will be doing what, when everything will happen, and what to do if something goes wrong. Site surveys are a key factor in the planning stage because they let us know exactly what we’re working with.
Probably the easiest step to do, but still very important. Providing every employee with personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital to safety. This includes but is not limited to: high-visibility vests, hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, respiratory protection, personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), and ear plugs. Providing PPE is just half of the battle, as a hard hat isn’t much good sitting in the back seat of the truck. Leadership and management needs to set an example for the rest of the crew by always wearing PPE and enforcing PPE rules for everyone else.
Training and educating all employees so they are prepared to identify, avoid, and remove hazards is the final step of the process. We also take time prepare employees for each new project by going over the plan created in step one, so everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t do.