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Demolition is a naturally dangerous activity. While it’s become safer over time, the tearing down of buildings can cause unplanned collapses and exposure to hazardous materials . Below, we’ve covered some of the top rigging concerns in these projects, and have provided some tips for ensuring safety and reducing accidents.

Pre-Demolition Process

A number of precautions must be taken before the demolition process can begin. These include the preparation of medical locations such as hospitals and fire prevention.  All utilities must be turned off before starting demolition.

Proper Rigging of Equipment

As with construction, proper rigging of equipment is essential to avoid accidents. In demolition, for example, a wrecking ball is used to demolish a structure to a manageable height before a complete razing or implosion can begin. Some rigging safety practices include:

  • Estimate the load’s center of gravity and weight.

  • Ensure slings and chains are not cracked or frayed.

  • Calculate tension in each sling leg.

  • Ensure all hooks and clasps are not deformed. The Clasp should entirely enclose the hook.

Employee Safety on Site

The primary concern for any industrial rigging project is the safety of the riggers. Demolition projects present different concerns from construction projects such as collapsing and free flowing debris.

  • Review the demolition plan and safety rules with all workers daily. Creating a positive safety culture for workers to stay motivated is crucial.

  • Ensure that employees do not work where structural collapse hazards exist until they are corrected by bracing or shoring. Also, make sure this is done for interior parts of the building that employees need to enter.

  • Ensure that proper lighting is provided for stairwells, hallways and passageways.

  • Floor openings for the depositing of waste must not exceed 25 percent of the total floor area.

Demolition Process

Worrers should ensure they have a plan in place that follows proper demolition protocol. This will not only help ensure the safety of the riggers, but also reduce the amount of debris that requires cleanup.

  • Check for unusual weather conditions such as high wind and temperature. Check for any irregularities in the surface where the rig will be located.

  • Make sure there are enclosed chutes with discharge gates at the end for the rig to drop debris into. These should lead to designated areas on the ground or to debris containers.

  • Ensure that all ornamental stonework has been removed.

  • For exterior demolition, rigging equipment should start at the uppermost wall or floor then proceed downward. This will help prevent collapsing.

  • Load-member or structural components cannot be removed until all walls and floors above are removed.

Materials and Components Used in Older Building Construction

The demolition of buildings, particularly older ones, run the risk of exposing the rigging job to hazardous materials, including some that are no longer used in construction. These include Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, and silica (quartz).

  • Ensure employees are wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes head protection, eye protection, leather gloves and steel-toed boots that have good traction. Inspect all equipment for damage of defects before using.

  • Inspect building prior to demolition for asbestos. This is done by a qualified inspector. All asbestos-containing materials must be removed from the building before demolition.

  • Properly identify and label all PCB-containing material that will be disturbed before starting demolition. Notify the contractor, developer and/or building owner if PCBs are found during the demolition process.

Today, demolition is recognized as a safe industry. This is due to its workers paying close attention to and addressing concerns at rigging sites. With the continued efforts of those in the industry and the promotion of a safety-focused culture, this reputation will only grow.

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