“Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” This is only one of many idioms encouraging all of us to plan ahead, but it’s not always easy to know how to plan complex projects, such as commercial demolition. Oregon to Maine, there are multiple changing variables in any demolition project, and it takes experience and expertise to understand how to best prepare for an upcoming demo assignment. In this post we look at what needs to be done to successfully plan commercial demolition. We provide several tips to help you effectively plan and execute future projects.
Commercial Demolition: Portland Contractor’s Tips on Planning Projects
Abide by the Rules. Make sure to follow OSHA and EPA standards and regulations, including local, county, and state ordinances that pertain to demolition and construction projects. In some areas, demolition companies must also obtain permits to allow them to legally take down structures.
Safety First. Make sure that you prioritize safety by providing ongoing employee safety training. Education is key to safety; if people are aware of workplace hazards, and what they can do to protect themselves, they are better able to stay safe.
Safety measures specific to demolition should include hazardous waste training and personal protection education. More dedicated demolition firms may also require stringent industry certification programs for workers, as well as and physical and drug tests. Here at Elder Demolition, we are serious about safety, so we’ve instituted a multi-prong demolition safety and education program.
OHSA Standards. OSHA has published a number of standards for demolition sites. Workplace and occupational safety procedures must be established before the start of the job, in the planning and surveying phase. Attention must be paid to the types of equipment that will be used, and to the methods that will be used during the demolition project. Such planning should only be carried out by a trained, certified, and experienced demolition professional.
Planning. Planning stages will include an engineering survey, to locate and mark all utility lines. Gas, water, electric, sewer, and other services must be capped or disconnected. Provisions for medical service and first aid must be coordinated; this could include proper equipment for transportation of injured workers, for instance. Additionally, supervisors should be equipped with emergency directions to the nearest hospital or emergency room, and communication systems must be in place to contact local emergency services such as 911 for Police and Fire. A fire plan must also be readied.
Special Structures. OSHA has also issued additional rules and guidance for special structures such as chimneys, stacks, silos, and cooling towers. When demolishing these types of structures, an experienced person must carry out a detailed and careful inspection before demo work starts. Architectural and engineering drawings should be inspected if they are available. Particular attention should be paid to the condition of chimneys or stacks. Workers should be on the lookout for weak spots and structural deficiencies, especially if dealing with interior brickwork. When removing steel bands, progress should proceed from the top down. Additional guidelines are in place for scaffolding and debris clearance. These guidelines should be consulted regularly when planning any demolition job site.
Hazardous Waste. Proper handling of hazardous waste and materials is critical. Demolition contractors must pay special attention to noxious waste that may contain lead, asbestos, and other toxic building materials. Sometimes demolition sites contain dated and dangerous chemicals or compounds, and demolition personnel must be trained in how to properly dispose of these elements without causing harm to the environment.
Cooperation with Local Business. This won’t matter as much when demolishing an isolated mill or factory, but for demolition projects that occur near other businesses, hospitals, schools, or residential areas, it’s important to be a good neighbor. Contractors should negotiate with nearby parties to minimize disruptions to the local area. Piece-by-piece dismantling may be desired, as it releases less dust and debris into the environment.
Green Demolition. Here at Elder Demolition we are committed to green demolition. We strive to dismantle, recycle, and reuse as much as possible on site. Dismantling by hand is one green technique, as it allows us to save or salvage a large quantity of bricks, flooring and other reusable building materials. We also have a concrete crusher that we can bring to your job site that will crush your old concrete into gravel, for reuse elsewhere. This can help your project earn LEED certification.
As you see, it takes many hours of planning to complete demolition projects safely and responsibly. Here at Elder Demolition, we are committed to this preparation process. We feel that thinking ahead can help us build a better world through safe and ethical demolition practices.