Rooftop Excavators Not the Safest Industrial Demolition Service

Shanghai highrise in Pudong (China 2006) via FlickrSome of modern history’s deadliest earthquakes have occurred in China, not due to especially quake-ridden geography, but because building codes there are not enforced, law enforcement corruption is common at the local level, and construction occurs at a breakneck pace. Seismic events are more deadly in China due to these factors. Along the same lines, these demolition methods may strike American industrial demolition companies as downright dangerous. Today we’re taking a look at the use of rooftop excavators in China, an especially hazardous demolition approach.

In a country where 30-story buildings are sometimes erected in as little as 15 days, demolition contractors are under pressure to complete dismantling projects at lightening speed. As such, they rely on methods that would never fly in the United States, such as hauling excavators to rooftops by crane, for dismantling buildings from the top down. The Huffington Post has featured photographs of an excavator perched precariously on top of a 12-story building in Taiyuan, China. Likewise, the Daily Mail has published excavators working on top of an 18-story structure in Zhejiang Province, which was slated for demolition after it was found to be leaning, with cracks in its foundational pillars.

You don’t need to provide industrial demolition services to appreciate the hazards of rooftop excavators. What happens if an excavator—weighing 30 tons or more—should crash to the street? The Huffington Post photographs show no barriers or harnesses restricting such a devastating tumble. Moreover, all that weight loaded onto an already precarious building threatens to cause a collapse, putting the lives of innocent bystanders and contractors at further risk.

Here in the United States, demolition standards are extensive and strictly enforced. Moreover, industry associations such as the National Demolition Association (NDA) provide a plethora of safety resources for contractors, who generally compete to be the safest, as American developers recognize the hefty liability risk of failing to meet safety standards. One example of a rare violator of demolition safety standards stems from 2011, when a Maine demolition contractor was fined $271,000 for failing to meet OSHA demolition safety standards during demolition of a mill. OSHA regulations require demolition companies to carry out multiple safety protections, including material analysis, environmental hazard precautions, and proper worker protection.

Here at Elder Demolition, we recognize that safety must be the first priority on any construction site. That’s why we conduct regular physical and drug testing, provide chemical hazard/fall protection training, and require 40-hour HAZWOPER certification for our workers. We are proud of our exceptional safety record in commercial and industrial demolition. And we are grateful to be operating in a nation with scrupulous safety standards, where ludicrous demolition approaches—such as rooftop excavators—are banned.

[Photo by Paul Arps via CC License]

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