Remodeling projects often include some form of demolition. With demolition, there are a myriad of risks and dangers that workers and any other person present on-site, may be exposed to. Sometimes, these risks are so hidden or random, that not even the owner of the building may be aware of them.
As a result, it is vital that you prep correctly and take all the necessary precautions to guarantee your safety when working on a demolition project. With that said, here is a brief look at some of the things that can go wrong during a typical demolition project, including how to stay safe and keep out of harm’s way while you work.
Potential Hazards During a Demolition Project
Read below for a brief look at some of the potential hazards you are likely to get exposed to during a typical demolition project:
Falls From Heights or on the Same Level
Falls from heights are very common during demolition projects. Most of the time, it is the debris or structural components of the building that come tumbling down, destroying anything it finds in its way. Falls from significantly high-up, can lead to serious injuries; especially if one lands on their head, or worse, you can even get buried alive and suffocate slowly inside the ensuing rubble. To stay safe from these hazards, always stay alert during demolitions, and ensure that you are operating at a very safe distance from any part of the target structure that could collapse, all the times.
The Premature Collapse of Structures
It is not strange to have a structure tumbling down before its expected time. On many occasions, a structure may collapse prematurely. This normally happens when the structure was already compromised, before the demolition, or if the operator unknowingly misjudged the required force to bring down a specific section of the building.
Other than operator skills and proper timing, there isn’t much you can do to avoid this kind of hazard. Again, you will have to stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and put on the right safety gear, to stay safe, in the event of a premature collapse of a structure.
Silting of Drainage System
Demolition projects normally generate a great deal of dust. If this dust is not managed properly, there is a chance that it can end up in the drainage works and block them. Blocked drainages may cause a lot of problems to those within the affected networks. It is always upon the contractor or the operator of the demolition equipment to control the process, and ensure that though a large amount of debris is generated, they are not allowed to access the drainage in any way.
Electric shock is another potential hazard that comes with typical demolition projects. This is likely to be experienced if there are exposed wires, leading to a live electrical supply. Electric shock can lead to serious burns, and may sometimes be fatal depending on the voltage, to which the victim was exposed.
The good news is that electric shock can be easily controlled before the demolition project commences. All you have to do is cut off the entire power supply, to the affected structures and avoid touching the electrical supply wires, with the demolition equipment.
Fires and Explosions
It is normal to experience fire damage and even explosions during certain types of demolition work. However, the good news is that all these events can be controlled. The major source of fires and explosions are usually flammable and explosive substances, which may be present within the building.
Breached gas pipes may lead to fires and explosions if the gas was still running at the time of the demolition. With proper site preparation, you can always avoid the dangers of fires and explosions. Ensure that to the best of your knowledge, there is nothing flammable on-site; all gas supplies should be disconnected, and the power supply to the structure should also be cut off.
The other potential dangers you are likely to encounter during a demolition project, include noise and vibration from heavy plants and equipment, large amounts of dust and fumes, falling debris, plants and vehicles overturning, and problems occasioned by spilled fuel oils.
Safety Precautions Worth Observing During Demolition Works
To stay safe during demolition work, here is a brief look at some of the precautions worth observing:
Put on Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment is not only relevant in the medical field or when dealing with harmful substances, such as asbestos. When you are considering a demolition project, you need to also protect yourself by having on certain personal protective equipment. These include safety boots, a helmet, a face mask, a pair of goggles, hearing protection, gloves, and waterproof leggings, among other forms of equipment. The specific personal protective equipment you will use depends on the nature of the demolition project in question.
Monitor Dust, Noise, and Vibrations
Stay alert every time you are on-site for demolition. Sometimes things can go wrong very quickly, and your alertness may allow you to prevent a fatal injury. Be aware of the dust, noise, and vibrations that come from demolition-related activities. In doing so, you won’t be caught totally off-guard, should something go wrong during the process.
Perform Risk Assessment Prior to the Demolition
One of the best ways to keep it safe during any demolition project, is to perform a risk assessment before the commencement of the project. Ideally, it would be performed before the plants and the equipment show up on-site; you should carry out a risk assessment, and identify potential hazards, and determine how to mitigate them. Take into account risks, such as hazardous materials, waste material disposal, demolition activity risks, equipment decontamination, asbestos removal, and site remediation, after the project is over.
Once you have identified all the potential risks, you can move on to the demolition phase, with a clear picture of the kinds of risks you are likely to run into. In doing so, you will be more prepared when encountering the risks, since you are aware that such threats do exist, and how they can occur.