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What are the biggest risks in demolition and how they are managed?

Demolition is a complex process that involves the systematic dismantling of a structure in order to clear a site for new construction or repurposing. While it may seem straightforward, there are numerous risks associated with demolition that must be carefully managed to ensure the safety of workers, nearby buildings, and the surrounding community. In this article, we will discuss the biggest risks in demolition and how they are managed.

Uncontrolled Structural Collapse

The biggest risk in demolition is the possibility of an uncontrolled structural collapse. When a building or structure is demolished, it is deliberately weakened and may become unstable, posing a serious risk to workers and nearby buildings if it is not controlled correctly. To prevent an uncontrolled structural collapse, engineers and demolition professionals work together to develop a detailed demolition plan that takes into account the structural integrity of the structure, the existing load paths within the structure, the materials used in its construction, and the proximity of nearby buildings or existing infrastructure.

The demolition plan outlines the specific sequence of events that will occur during the demolition process and includes measures to mitigate the risk of an uncontrolled structural collapse, such as the use of specialised equipment, controlled demolition techniques, and the implementation of safety measures to protect workers and the surrounding area.

Falls from Height

When buildings or structures are demolished, workers may need to work at height to take them down safely. This may include working on scaffolding, mobile elevated working platforms (MEWPs) or other equipment, or working from high levels within the building or structure.

Falls from height can occur due to a variety of factors, including slippery or unstable surfaces, poor weather conditions, inadequate training or equipment, and human error. These falls can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities.

To mitigate the risk of falls from height in the demolition industry, workers must be trained on proper safety procedures and given appropriate protective equipment. Employers should also implement strict safety protocols and ensure that workers are following them at all times. This may include using guardrails, safety harnesses, and other fall protection equipment, as well as conducting regular safety inspections of equipment and work areas. By prioritising safety and taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of falls from height, workers in the demolition industry can stay safe on the job.

Asbestos and Other Hazardous Materials

Another major risk associated with demolition is the presence of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, and biological substances such as moulds or animal faeces. If these materials are not properly identified and managed, they can pose serious health risks to workers and the surrounding community.

To manage the risk of hazardous materials, demolition professionals must conduct a thorough inspection of the building before demolition begins. This inspection includes the identification of any hazardous materials present in the building, as well as the development of a plan for their safe removal and disposal. In the case of asbestos, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 stipulates that all asbestos containing materials are removed as far as is reasonably practicable prior to any major refurbishment or demolition work, for this reason a Refurbishment and Demolition Survey must be carried out by a competent person prior to the works.

Workers must use personal protective equipment to protect themselves from exposure to hazardous materials, and specialised equipment, such as HEPA filters, must be used to prevent the release of hazardous particles into the air from any sealed enclosure.

Airborne Particles

During demolition, a significant amount of dust and debris is generated, which can pose health risks to workers and the surrounding community. To manage this risk, workers must use specialised equipment, such as dust suppression systems, to control dust and debris during the demolition process.

The use of proper ventilation and air filtration systems can also help to manage the risk of airborne particles. Demolition professionals must ensure that nearby buildings and the surrounding community are protected from the dust and debris generated during the demolition process.

Noise Pollution

Demolition can be a noisy process which can cause disruptions to nearby buildings wildlife and the surrounding community. To manage the risk of noise pollution, demolition professionals must comply with local noise ordinances and use specialised equipment, such as noise barriers and sound insulation, to reduce the impact of noise on nearby buildings and the surrounding community.

GLC Projects professional demolition teams carry out demolition and stripout projects for clients and contractors nationally. All GLC Projects operatives hold CCDO demolition specific training for the role they do and have many years’ experience working on major demolition projects. Our plant and equipment is demolition equipped ready to tackle projects in all residential, commercial and industrial sectors. For more information, or to request a quote, please get in touch.