Construction safety equipment provides contractors with an integral layer of support on each and every job, and is often among the most vital resources that workers can have around a job site. In work areas where demolition is taking place, it's important to be prepared for other challenges that may arise, as the release of new educational materials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has highlighted.
Multiple demolition-related fatalities around the U.S. – specifically, the June 2014 death of a construction worker in New Jersey and a fatality that occurred in January 2014 in Chicago – have spurred OSHA to act. The organization has released safety training information for those in the construction and demolition industry in the hopes of preventing serious injuries and deaths stemming from demolition risks.
"Demolition workers face many hazards and their lives should not be sacrificed because of deliberate neglect of demolition fundamentals," said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA's assistant secretary of labor. "Employers must ensure that all workers involved in a demolition project are fully aware of hazards and safety precautions before work begins and as it progresses."
According to OSHA, any time a structure is dismantled, razed, destroyed, or wrecked in any way, demolition has occurred. But in order for the process to be completed safely, there are a few important things contractors must keep in mind.
Above all, planning is essential. In order to perform a demolition-related task in a safe manner, workers should attempt to locate, secure and if possible, relocate nearby utilities; the creation of a fire prevention and evacuation plan should be done before the job is started, while access to first aid kits and emergency medical services should also be taken care of.
Between 2009 and 2013, OSHA has issued more than 1,000 citations across the country for demolition safety violations. Construction and Demolition Recycling magazine noted that the most common citation issued against companies for demolition violations included failure to conduct an engineering survey, which is essential for calculating the state of a structure prior to demolition actually taking place. Without the survey, an unplanned collapse of a structure may be more likely to occur, underscoring the importance of this process.
Workers should also have secure personal protective equipment, including devices that offer head, face, hand, hearing, foot and respiratory protection. Reflective clothing or attire that provides some safety from the elements is also required on jobsites. Developing personal fall arrest systems and understanding how to recognize certain safety hazards on demolition sites can ensure contractors and their staff stay safe throughout.