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What are the Safety Protocols for the Demolition of a Structure? [PDF]

How to Demolish a Building Safely

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As we know, every design of a building or a structure has a life span known as design life. When this design life (80-100 years) of the building is completed, the structure is not safe for living and neighboring buildings. The building or structure needs to be demolished in order to reuse the space.

The demolition of the building is the process of dismantling or destroying a structure after its life of serviceability by pre-planned and controlled methods.

This article lays down the detailed safety requirements for carrying out demolition/dismantling of the building.

1. Planning and Permit for Demolition

  1. Before the commencement of actual work of demolition, a careful and detailed study shall be made of the structure to be demolished, including its surroundings. 
  2. While working out the plan of demolition, the safety of adjoining structures shall be ensured. 
  3. The engineer-in-charge shall approve the final plan of the sequence of operations.
  4. Before commencing demolition work, permit, where required, shall be obtained from the authority and posted prominently at the site. 

2. Precautions Prior to Demolition

  1. When the building is demolished using explosives, this shall be done after the approval of the authority and after taking necessary precautions.
  2. Prominent danger signs shall be posted all around the property, and all openings giving access to the structures shall be kept barricade or manned except during the actual passage of workers or equipment. 
  3. During the night, warning lights shall be placed on or above all barricades.
  4. All gas, water, electricity, steam, and other service lines shall be shut off outside the property line after notifying the service companies and concerned authorities and obtaining their approval. 
  5. When work is not in progress, security guards shall be provided to prevent unauthorized entry of the public in the anger zone.
  6. All necessary safety appliances shall be issued to the workers prior to starting of work.
  7. Suitable safety precautions for fire shall be provided. 

3. Protection of the Public

  1. Proper safety distances shall be ensured for the safety of the public. Warnings shall be clearly marked and prominently signposted. 
  2. Every sidewalk or road adjacent to the demolition work shall be protected or closed.
  3. The sidewalks shall be lighted sufficiently to ensure safety at all times. 

4. Precautions during demolition

  1. Prior to commencement of work, all materials of fragile nature like glass and fiber shall be removed.
  2. Dust raised during the demolitions shall be controlled by suitable means to prevent harm to workers.
  3. Stacking of demolition debris shall be within the safe limits of the structural member. Additional supports, where necessary, shall be given.
  4. Adequate natural/artificial lighting and ventilation shall be provided for the workmen.

5. Lowering, Removal and Disposal of Demolished Materials

  1. As far as possible, no material shall be dropped or thrown from the hight more than 2m. 
  2. The demolished material shall be lowered either by containers, ropes, and tackles or chutes properly designed.
  3. If chutes are provided, it shall be placed at an angle of more than 45 from horizontal, shall be entirely closed on all the four sides except for an opening for receiving the material. 
  4. The top opening of the chute for the dumping of material shall be protected with guard rails.
  5. For dropping of debris through holes in the floor shall be allowed if absolutely necessary. 
  6. When such a method is adopted, precautions shall be taken to avoid overloading of the floor.
  7. Debris shall be removed at the earliest to ensure a safe and adequate working space. 
  8. Debris shall be removed from the site in stages as not to be of nuisance to the public. 

6. Safety Precaution during Mechanical Demolition

When demolition is to be performed by mechanical devices, such as weight ball, power shovels, the following additional precautions may be ensured:

  1. The demolition area shall be barricaded for a minimum distance of one and a half times the height of the wall.
  2. While the mechanical device is in operation, no workmen shall be allowed to enter the building being demolished.
  3. The device shall be so located as to avoid damage by falling debris.
  4. The mechanical device, when being used, shall not cause any damage to the adjacent structures, power lines, etc.

7. Other Safety Precautions

  1. The demolition work shall not be carried out during night time as far as possible, especially when the structure to be demolished is in an inhabited area.
  2. If demolition must be done at night, additional precautions by way of additional red warning signals, working lights, and security guards shall be provided to avoid any injury to workers and the public. 
  3. The demolition work shall not be carried out during the storm and heavy rain. 
  4. Warning devices shall be installed in the area to warn the workers in case of any danger.
  5. Safety devices like industrial safety helmets and goggles made of celluloid lens shall be issued to the workmen.
  6. Construction sheds and toolboxes shall be so located as to protect workers from injuries from the falling debris.
  7. Where there is a likelihood of injuries to the hands of workmen when demolishing RCC, steel structures, etc., gloves of suitable materials shall be worn by workmen.
  8. Sufficient protection by way of both overhead cover and screens shall be provided to prevent injuries to the workmen and the public.
  9. Safety belts or ropes shall be used by workmen when working at higher levels.

8. First Aid

  1. A copy of all regulations and notices concerning accidents, injury, and first aid shall be prominently exhibited at the worksite.
  2. Depending on the scope and nature of the work, a person qualified in first-aid shall be available at the worksite to render and direct first-aid to causalities.
  3. He shall maintain a list of individuals qualified to serve in first-aid work.
  4. Enough first-aid kit, including a stretcher and cot with accessories, shall be provided at the site.
  5. A telephone may be provided to the first-aid assistant with telephone numbers of the hospitals prominently displayed.
  6. Complete reports of all accidents and action taken thereon shall be forwarded to the competent authorities. 

FAQs on Safety Precautions when Demolition of Building

What is demolition of building?

The demolition of the building is the process of dismantling or destroying a structure after its life of serviceability by pre-planned and controlled methods.

How much of the area must be cleared or barricaded for the demolition of a building?

The demolition area shall be barricaded or cleared for a minimum distance of one and a half times the height of the wall or building

What are the safety equipments to be used by the workers during demolition?

The workers must use safety helmets and goggles (celluloid lens), gloves, safety belts or ropes with reflective vest during demolition.

Read More:
1. Demolition Methods and Process for Building Structures
2. Selecting Qualified Demolition Contractors for Construction Projects
3. How to dispose of Construction Waste Safely?

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