Demolition Accidents: Construction in Reverse
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Demolition is the process of tearing down a structure or a part of a structure in a controlled manner. It involves the use of a variety of equipment including bulldozers, excavators, cranes, wrecking balls, rotational hydraulic shears, and many more. Depending on the requirements, a structure could be taken down piecemeal, knocked down completely using a wrecking ball or a high reach arm, or blasted using explosives. Irrespective of the method employed, demolition is an inherently risky activity where even the slightest of missteps could have serious consequences.
Risks Involved in Demolition Work
There are a number of hazards associated with demolition work, mainly due to the unknown factors involved.
- The structure could have been modified – either legally or illegally – and might be different from the original design. In which case, planning a demolition job based on the original design would be extremely dangerous.
- There could be heavy metals, chemicals, and other such substances which require careful handling hidden in the structure.
- If the strengths and weaknesses of the construction material are not known, it can increase the risks involved in the demolition job considerably.
- There are inherent risks involved in any method of demolition, which make the whole process dangerous.
Common Types of Demolition Accidents
- Workers could get impaled on rebar.
- Workers could get electrocuted by accidentally making contact with live wires during demolition work.
- Workers could die of flash fires at warehouses.
- Workers in aerial lift could get crushed to death due to an expected roof collapse.
These types of work-related injuries could be compensable under workers’ compensation.
Preventing and Controlling Demolition Hazards
The hazards associated with demolition work can be eliminated to a large extent by following OSHA’s safety regulations. Given here is a list of measures that employers should take to lower the risk of accidents and injuries at demolition sites.
- A risk assessment survey should be done by a qualified professional prior to the demolition job. The structure to be demolished should be inspected carefully to determine if there is any chance of an unplanned collapse.
- All the utility lines should be identified, secured, or relocated.
- Before starting the work, the contractor should make sure if there are proper fire prevention and evacuation plan in place and if the workers have access to first aid and emergency medical services should something go wrong.
- A health hazard assessment should also be done prior to the demolition job.
Personal Protective Equipment
Workers should be provided with the following protective equipment.
- Protective equipment for the eyes, face, head, and hands
- Hearing protection
- Respiratory protection
- Fall protection systems
- Protective clothing for specific operations like cutting and welding
Workers should also be trained on how to properly wear the protective equipment, how to maintain it, and how to store it safely.
OSHA Recommended Safety Measures for Demolition Work
- The condition of floors, walls, and framing in the structure to be demolished should be inspected carefully. If they are damaged, they should be braced to prevent the possibility of an unexpected collapse.
- All the stairways and passageways should be inspected prior to the job and illuminated properly.
- All the service lines including gas, electric, water, and sewage should be shut off, secured, and relocated prior to the demolition job.
- The pipes and tanks in the structure should be checked for harmful chemicals, gases, and explosives.
Mitigating the Risks Involved in Demolition Work
The very nature of demolition work is risky. The risks, however, can be mitigated and avoided to a considerable extent by following OSHA’s safety regulations and by educating workers on the nature of their job and the hazards associated with it.
Watch YouTube Video: How to Prevent Accidents and Stay Safe During Demolition Projects. This video explains how to take precautions to prevent injuries during a demolition project.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Demolition work is hazardous. If you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
I’m a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
See how we won some of our cases on our settlements and verdicts web page.
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