The law says that all demolition, dismantling and structural alteration should be carefully planned and carried out by competent practitioners. Key issues are:
A systematic approach to demolition projects is a team effort between many people, who all have responsibilities:
During demolition and dismantling, workers can be injured falling from edges, through openings, fragile surfaces and partially demolished floors.
Dutyholders have a responsibility to assess, eliminate and control the risks of falls from height. Find out more about falls from height.
Workers and passers-by can be injured by the premature and uncontrolled collapse of structures, and by flying debris.
A safe system of work is one that keeps people as far as possible from the risks. This may include:
The structural survey should consider:
The method statement for the demolition should identify the sequence required to prevent accidental collapse of the structure.
Gas, electricity, water and telecommunications services need to be isolated or disconnected before demolition work begins. If this is not possible, pipes and cables must be labelled clearly, to make sure they are not disturbed.
Effective traffic management systems are essential on site, to avoid putting workers at risk of being hit by vehicles turning, slewing, or reversing. Where possible, vision aids and zero tail swing machines should be used. Find out more about traffic management
Hazardous materials that need to be considered include dust, asbestos and respirable crystalline silica (RCS).There may also be material or contamination on site that has not been cleared, for example:
Find out more about the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
Frequent exposure to loud noise can permanently damage a persons hearing. Noise can also create a safety risk if it makes it difficult for workers to communicate effectively or stops them hearing warning signals.
Vibrating hand tools used in demolition can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).Workers exposure to vibration needs to be managed and reduced as far as possible.
Fire is a risk where hot work (using any tools that generate spark, flame or heat) is being done. During structural alteration, the fire plan must be kept up to date as the escape routes and fire points may alter. There must be an effective way to raise the alarm.
Everyone involved needs to know what precautions are to be taken on site. Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Your employees are often the best people to understand the risks in their workplace. Find out more about involving your workers in health and safety.