Taking down buildings and structures is dangerous work with defined safety protocols.
Demolition can be by manual or mechanical methods, or it can involve explosives or other hazardous methods.
Whatever the method, workers’ safety is a fundamental concern. Site safety precautions can eliminate any risk or chance of workplace-related injury.
Over the past 100 years, construction demolition meant manual work with hand tools. Then came use of cranes and bulldozers. As the demolished buildings got taller, cranes used wrecking balls of different sizes and weights. The goal was to take a building down as fast as possible. But with workers’ safety in mind, municipalities returned to primarily manual and mechanical means.
A demolition jobsite may have more than one subcontractor or owner’s representative on site. The general contractor or project manager or engineer may be present to observe. Others can include site safety personnel, those working security, and workers who are on site for their job.
Providing those on site with personal protective equipment (PPE) and guarding against accidents and injury involve a complicated process.
Unfortunately, each year thousands of construction workers on jobsites die or suffer serious injuries. Many injuries are preventable, but sometimes safety is compromised by contractors or owners who want to save money and skirt safety guidelines.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalizes those who bypass or ignore safety rules.
Demolition accidents and injuries can be reduced by proper attention to safety precautions.
Workers’ Safety Precautions in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania does not have a federally approved occupational and safety health regulatory program. OSHA’s role is to ensure the safety and health of workers by setting standards; providing training, outreach, and education; and encouraging a continual improvement in workplace safety.
OSHA safety regulations are applicable for construction demolition work. These are the types of worker’s safety precautions during demolition:
- Prior worker training in means and methods.
- On-site demolition experience.
- Training and experience in safe use of equipment and protective clothing, including shoes, gloves, helmets, and other protective gear, to be worn.
- When explosives are used, workers need to have certified PPE for that purpose.
- OSHA regulations govern the types of PPE. They include head, hearing, eyes, face, and respiration protection. PPE gear must be certified. Employers can receive an OSHA PPE Compliance Training certification.
- All training is in the language best understood by the worker.
- Before demolition begins, every area in the structure has to be examined for hazards and hazardous materials; this is called a sweep. No one can be left behind before demolition begins. A monitor for the site perimeter is present to keep unauthorized people out.
- Before the work begins, if a worker will be inside the building during demolition, ceilings and walkways may need to be braced for extra support in case of falling materials and debris.
- Barricades are placed around areas where debris is placed.
- Protective canopies for employees at entry and exit points to the demolition site.
- There must be curbs around floor openings where machines are operated.
- There must be frequent and regular inspections of the jobsite by competent persons.
What Pennsylvania Requires from Companies
Demolition workers should know the requirements their demolition company must follow. The Pennsylvania Code provides for the following precautions:
- Pre-work investigation for dangerous conditions
- Bracing of any structure already damaged by fire or flood, or other issues
- Shutting-off or relocating utility lines with notifications
- Top-down demolition of exterior walls and floors
- Protective measures, such as sidewalk sheds, for pedestrians
- Unless a municipality has opted out, a demolition permit is required
- Obtaining insurance coverage
- Safety precautions for workers
What Should be Done if an Accident Does Happen?
When workers are injured on the demolition jobsite, they need to follow procedures, including receiving appropriate medical attention and notifying their employer. Also, an injured worker should consider consulting a qualified Workers’ Compensation lawyer to protect their legal rights to benefits and a fair and full recovery of damages.
Chester County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC are Committed to Helping Injured Workers
If you were injured at work as a result of a demolition accident, the Chester County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC are ready to assist. Taking pride in professionalism and the ability to provide skilled representation and counsel to their clients, our lawyers remain committed to public service based on judgment and the ability to provide good and effective legal advice. We will focus all our efforts toward getting you the compensation for which you are entitled. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, and we serve residents of Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.