Safety is the first priority of any industrial demolition contractor. When a project is safe, employees are happier and the work finishes on time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets safety regulations for demolition contractors for a reason – the work is risky. With this in mind, homeowners should also keep safety in mind when embarking on a demolition, remodeling or building project.
Look for environmental hazards. Some construction materials contain toxins such as mold, formaldehyde, lead or asbestos. If you’re not sure what went into the building materials you’re demolishing, hire a professional to figure this out. If there are toxins in the environment, let the pros handle it.
Analyze the materials. A sledge hammer isn’t the go-to tool for every type of building material. Before starting a project, analyze the materials so you can pinpoint the right demolition tools.
Make a plan. If there aren’t any hazardous materials in your home, plan to work from the top down. In your plan, include a safety checklist with items like sealing off the area, shutting off the utilities, where to place chutes and so on.
Prevent fall hazards. If you are ever going to be four feet or more off the ground, implement these fall protection measures:
- Install stair rails, handrails and guardrails.
- Cover holes will floor boards or toe-boards.
- Keep the floors dry.
- Use a harness and lines whenever you’re four feet or more off the ground.
- Learn how to use a ladder safely. (A ladder is one of the most deadly items on a demolition site.)
Pry bars: Use a pry bar to pull out nails, remove tiles and loosen flooring. If you need something stronger to loosen flooring, give a San Angelo bar a try.
Hammers: A standard claw hammer is great for removing nails and making small holes in drywall. Use a mini-sledgehammer for tougher tasks, like removing interior framing and wood support beams. Reserve the full-size sledge hammer for materials like bricks or concrete. As you work with nails, take the time to knock them flat so they don’t end up lodged in a foot – or better yet, keep the area clean so you don’t step on piles of debris.
Excavators: Excavators can increase the efficiency of your project when an experienced operator is in the driver’s seat.
Demolition Safety Equipment & Best Practices
Spend a little money and save a lot – including your life – with PPE personal protective equipment and other safety materials. You should also consider implementing the demolition best practices below. Recommended safety equipment includes:
- Safety glasses
- Hard hat
- Work gloves
- Ear protection
- Respirators or dust masks
- Shatterproof goggles
- Steel-toed boots or boots with shanks in the soles
- Harness for work on the roof or around open holes
- Electrical tester (to make sure power lines are dead)
- Fire hose
- First aid kit
- Safety buddy
Put safety first. Always use safety gear, and inspect it prior to starting work.
Obtain permits. Before your project, verify whether you need a demolition permit.
Handle hazardous materials wisely. The EPA has standards for handling environmental hazards. Work with a licensed company to remove them from your site.
Be a good neighbor. As you work, be mindful of noise levels, dust levels and the debris produced.
Consider a green demolition. Divert what you can from the landfill by salvaging usable building materials and reusing or donating them. Recycle what you can, and sell scrap metal to recoup some of your costs
Demolition is all about forethought and logic. Never hesitate to talk to a demolition contractor if you have any questions or safety concerns about your project.
Elder Demolition, a fully licensed demolition contractor located in Portland, Oregon, has provided safe, top-notch demolition services throughout the western United States since 1997. Elder Demolition