As a company that provides demolition contractor services in London, Sussex, Kent, Surrey and beyond, Rabbit Demolition prides itself on a firm commitment to health and safety. As leaders in our field, we continually look for ways to improve our processes, safeguarding our demolition contractors and the general public from accidents or injuries.
When it comes to on-site safety, as demolition contractors, we believe in sharing best practices in order to reduce the risks to our industry as a whole. With that in mind, in this article we’ll be sharing some health and safety advice for demolition sites so you, too, can operate efficiently, effectively and free from harm.
Who Is Responsible For Health And Safety?
Many people assume that the responsibility of health and safety sits within one person’s job description, perhaps someone tucked away in a back office behind stacks of paperwork and red tape. And, although there are designated duty holders on each project, the reality is that an element of responsibility lies with each and every person involved in a demolition project.
All businesses should have a health and safety policy that underlies their operations and should also have a designated “competent person” who can recognise potential hazards in your business and rectify them. However, a demolition site contains many more hazards than an ordinary workplace and so requires a much broader approach.
Although the demolition company is ultimately responsible for the on-site safety of its employees, risk management happens both at a business-wide and an individual level.
Clients are responsible for providing surveys and reports to demolition contractors prior to work commencing. These reports may disclose structural instability, hazardous materials etc.
Site managers are responsible for identifying, reporting and resolving any risks on-site as well as overseeing contractors, ensuring they’re following agreed health and safety guidelines.
Demolition contractors themselves are required to follow instructions and adhere to health and safety training they’ve been given, as well as reporting potential hazards to the site manager.
Whether you’re hiring a demolition company for an upcoming project or are working on the ground as a demolition contractor, you have an important role to play in the health and safety of others on-site.
Demolition Site Risks
A demolition site produces a higher than average risk of injury, not just for demolition contractors but for visitors on-site and even passers-by. When undertaking a project, it is imperative that demolition companies understand their obligations in order to safeguard all those who may be at risk.
By law, all demolition must be carefully planned and executed by professionals with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to avoid harm according to CDM 2015 regulations.
Common risk factors on a demolition site include:
- Risk: Uncontrolled collapse
Management: A structural survey will take into account the age and previous use of the structure, along with a variety of other factors to establish its structural integrity. With this information, demolition companies can plan their strategy accordingly to prevent an uncontrolled collapse from occurring.
- Risk: Falling materials
Management: In preventing an uncontrolled collapse, the risk of injury from falling materials is also reduced. To further prevent damage from falling materials, it’s recommended to create as much distance between people and high-risk areas as possible through the use of covered walkways, exclusion zones and hard-hat areas.
- Risk: Falling from a height
Management: With gaps, openings and partially demolished areas commonplace, a demolition site increases the risk of workers falling from a height. This can be alleviated by those in charge assessing the potential risk areas and eliminating hazards where possible.
- Risk: Connected services
Management: When it comes to services, a small oversight can lead to severe injury. Contractors can be put at high risk of injury by connected services such as electricity, gas, water and telecommunications. Services should be disconnected prior to demolition, with any remaining live connections clearly marked.
- Risk: Hazardous materials
Management: While many demolition contractors are familiar with the risks associated with asbestos, many other materials can also create risk factors. Flammable and microbiological materials (often found in disused medical buildings) should all be removed from a site prior to demolition unless otherwise agreed.
- Risk: Noise
Management: Not only can loud noise damage a person’s hearing in the long term, but in real-time it can affect their ability to communicate effectively with those around them. This poses a high risk on a demolition site where verbal directions and warning signals may be relied on in high noise areas.
Safer Working, Safer Sites
As members of the National Demolition Training Group (NDTG) and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Rabbit Demolition maintains a high standard of health and safety on every project we undertake. Within our in-house Health and Safety Policy, we establish ten steps to ensure compliance with the ISO 14001:2015 EMS certification.
If you’re looking for further health and safety advice for demolition sites, we can highly recommend consulting the Health and Safety Executive website, which provides up to date guidance on managing risk.