man drilling wall

Health and safety when working in demolition

Posted on 9th May, 2016 | By Lorretta Tatham

Demolition is the single most high-risk activity when it comes to work in the construction sector. Without efficient risk control, environmental management, and careful planning, serious injury, and even death can occur. No matter how experienced a construction worker may be, health and safety needs to be put first at all times. Today, we’re going to show you how…

Despite the known risks of demolition, accidents still occur. In fact, there have been a worrying number of accidents reported of late – the most talked-about being the building collapse at Didcot Power Station. In February this year, the turbine hall of the former coal-fired Didcot A plant was in the process of being demolished. As a result of unforeseen circumstances, the end of the main turbine hall collapsed, killing four.


Safety protocols, risks, and minimising dangers

Health and safety in demolition

While it’s impossible to guarantee safety at all times, following health and safety protocols will ensure safety the majority of the time.

A team must:

  • Spend the required amount of time to thoroughly plan the work
  • Ensure those with the right skills, knowledge, and experience are involved
  • Carry out the appropriate surveys and reports required before commencing work. These include reports on asbestos and structural stability of the site
  • Plan, monitor, and manage all health and safety issues prior to the work and during the project
  • Ensure adequate supervision of the work
  • Have clear instruction and plans distributed to all those involved in the project.

Together, these procedures will help to prevent common accidents, which include:


Falls from a height

Construction workers can fall from edges and through unstable surfaces on demolition sites.

Safety tip: Follow all the usual protocols for working safety from a height. You can familiarise yourself with them on one of the following Safety Training courses:


Injury from falling materials

fallen bricks

It’s common for bits of debris to crumble and there are real risks of the overall structure of a building falling down.

Safety tip: Establish exclusion zones and hard-hat areas and make sure they’re clearly marked. Appropriate training and supervision of workers is key here too.


Hazardous materials

hazardous pipes

Dust, asbestos, and contaminated materials can be rife in environments like these. Microbiological hazards may also be a concern when demolishing old hospital buildings.

Safety tip: Ensure all risks are assessed before beginning work on the site. Give relevant information to all those working on-site and consider familiarising yourself with asbestos safety on our course – UKATA Asbestos Awareness Training.


Noise and vibration

noise and vibration Health and safety

Exposure to both or either one of these can cause long-term damage. Noise-related issues can also become problematic when they hinder communication between team members.

Safety tip: Provide the appropriate PPE for all those working on-site. Exposure to vibration tools must also be managed and reduced as far as possible.

For more information about our Safety Training courses, give our Course Enquiries team a call today on 01282 615517.


Do you have any more health and safety tips to add? If so, leave your comments below or tweet your top tips to us @BrownsLadders

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