Demolitions Safety 101


It is true that construction workers face many hazards on a daily basis while at work. With that said, it is very important for employers to ensure that all workers on a demolition site are fully aware of the hazards and safety precautions before work begins and as it progresses.

A man was killed and another injured in Cherry Hill when a former Blockbuster Video store collapsed. The building was being demolished to make way for a new store. The victim was a day laborer who was employed by a subcontractor for two weeks. According to reports, the building was 98% down when a cinder block wall and metal roof collapsed on top of the victim. The roof collapsed when one of the last two walls was demolished, and the victim was evidently inside the building remains at that time. Officials from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the federal Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were on the site investigating.

OSHA Demolition Standards

Construction safety and health should be at the forefront of all employers’ priorities when on a construction site. OSHA’s demolition standards include requirements for employers to conduct engineering surveys before demolition work begins, provide personal protective equipment and provide appropriate training in a language and vocabulary that workers can understand. OSHA cautions that all demolition contractors should take numerous steps to safeguard the premises.

Engineering Survey

OSHA standard requires that an engineering survey of the structure must be conducted prior to the start of all demolition operations. A competent expert should inspect the premises to determine the condition of the framing, floors and walls, so that measures can be taken to prevent premature collapse of any portion of the structure.

Utility Services

All utilities should be shut off, capped or controlled at the demolition site. This includes electric, gas, water, steam and sewer.

Medical and Police Services

Ensure there is a proper plan for prompt medical attention in case of a serious injury. This includes having proper equipment for prompt transportation. A fully stocked first aid kit should be readily available, too. Have police on site, if necessary.

Fire Plan and Prevention

A fire plan should be set up prior to beginning a demolition job. This plan should outline the assignments of key personnel in the event of a fire and provide an evacuation plan for workers on the site.

Removing Walls

Demolitions of exterior walls and floors must begin at the top of the structure and proceed downward. Additionally, OSHA standards forbid that any wall section, one story in height or higher, be permitted to stand alone without lateral bracing, unless such a wall was originally designed and constructed to stand without such lateral support and safe enough to stand alone.

Mechanical Demolition

No workers shall be permitted in any area when using a crane’s headache ball or clamshell to remove debris. Only those workers necessary to perform such operations must be permitted in this work area at any time.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed at a construction site, you may be able to recover. Seek the legal advice of the trained professionals at Solnick & Associates, LLC. Call us today at 215-481-9979 or send us a message online.

Photo Credit: Kirsty Pargeter