Managing Hazards During Demolition

There are hazards around every corner on a demolition site, and they can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. There’s the risk of falling objects, dangerous materials, unplanned structural collapses, and countless other hazards. To keep everyone safe it’s best to use a three-step process to manage these hazards – identify, assess, and control.

Identify

A thorough site inspection is needed to make a list of any potential hazards that might present themselves during the project. During this inspection, it’s best to leave no stone unturned. The structural integrity of the structure, building materials used, environmental concerns, and demolition method all need to be considered in this step. Once an exhaustive list of potential risks and hazards has been drawn up, we move on to the next step.

Assess

Now that all the risks have been identified, it’s time to start assessing how much of a danger they pose to the project and the crew. Several factors need to be considered when assessing risks. The schedule of work, layout of the job site, skill and experience of all crew members, equipment and tools being used, number of people on the job site, and even expected weather conditions all go into the risk assessment.

Control

When controlling hazards, the best-case scenario is to remove the hazard altogether, but this isn’t always possible. In cases when removing the hazard isn’t an option, there is a hierarchy of hazard management that can be used.  

  • Substitute the hazard with something safe
  • Isolate the hazard
  • Use engineering controls
  • Use administrative controls

No matter how much preparation and planning is used, there will always be hazards on a demolition site. This is why communication is so important when working on a project. Everyone from top brass to the front-line employees needs to have open communication so if a hazard is spotted, everyone can safely adjust.