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Last modified: 2019-03-21 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
A demolition project isn’t just about destroying a home from the ground up. In fact, there is a lot of careful preparation and planning involved. Demolishing a home or part of a house takes time and effort, and workers performing demolitions are exposed to many potential hazards. Therefore, it is especially important for demolition contractors to take extra care when undergoing this type of project.
But what are the specific safety measures involved? Not only are workers at risk, but there should be an acute awareness for homeowners and their family and friends during a home demolition. It is important for everyone to be aware of the security measures for a demolition project, so read on to find out exactly what homeowners and workers should be cautious of when in the midst of a home demolition project.
source: Pixabay, andreas160578
A demolition can be thought of as a construction project in reverse. Like all projects of this nature and size, the planning process is of the utmost importance. The first step of any demolition process is the completion of an engineering survey. This will allow for the conditions of the standing structure to be properly understood and will point to any potential problems with the floors, ceilings, framing, façade and other elements of the building. Further, the survey will develop controls to prevent any accidents that might occur. This survey will point to the potential collapse of any part of the structure as well as any health risks and fire hazards.
Make sure that this initial task is completed by someone qualified, and especially someone who understands the conditions of the building. Before demolition work begins, contractors and homeowners should have a written copy of the engineering survey. The written copy should list the following: construction type and the size of the structure including the number of stories, if there are any basements or confined spaces, shoring requirements, as well as the type of shoring and locations. Demolition contractors should be familiar with the type of report and should proceed accordingly.
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For the structures and areas surrounding where the demolition project will be taking place, it is important for contractors and homeowners alike to take the necessary precautions to protect these adjacent spaces. Firstly, if the sidewalk adjacent to your home is in a high traffic area, then this area may need to be blocked off or relocated to the street.
Further, make sure that walkways and the road in front of your home are completely clear of debris before, during and following the renovation project. To make sure of this, it’s important to have these areas well lit. If necessary, employ sheds over sidewalks to protect pedestrians from any debris falling from overhead. Another protective method is to use the gates surrounding the property. This way, those passing by will realize that your home is a hazardous zone.
source: Pixabay, BRRT
Next, it is important that potential hazards inside the home are located and marked. Gas, water and sewer lines need to be identified, and those which will be affected should be shut off accordingly. It is recommended that utility lines be colour coded, this way you can easily indicate if lines should be removed or will stay during and following demolition. Any water or ground tanks should be purged. Hole surrounding or inside the structure of the home should be indicated and barricaded as necessary, so workers don’t accidentally stumble across or fall into them.
Other hazards inside the home include those which are hidden from the naked eye, as these are some of the deadliest, and include chemicals such as lead, asbestos and silica. These materials can be found in furnaces, boilers, insulation as well as certain types of tiles. Lead can be found in paint and piping. These materials can only be detected by way of specialized testing, so it is important that if homeowners have yet to complete these tests, that they do this work before starting the demolition. If these materials happen to find their way into the air, they can cause extremely serious health problems including cancer and lung disease.
Following all the initial preparation, and yes there is a lot, a safety report must be drawn up. The safety report is in place to plan the specifics of work that will happen during demolition, as well as listing fire and evacuation plans in case the demolition goes awry in any way. Alongside evacuation plans, a list of contact information for medical personnel, the fire department and local authorities should be compiled and accessible to all working on the job and posted up around telephones in or close to the job site.
Further, appropriate protective covering for the bodies of workers, including eye, face, head, foot and hand protection should be provided on site. Also, included in this is respiratory protection as well as hearing protection for larger, and louder, demolition projects. Since fire is a serious job site hazard, portable fire extinguishers should be readily available and accessible. As well, any potential ignition sources should be identified and clearly marked.
Remember, the first step to a home demolition project is keeping everyone safe, healthy and happy and this includes the safety of everyone involved: workers, friends and family alike!
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