When carrying out residential, commercial or industrial demolition, contractors must abide by certain codes. Federal OSHA and EPA regulations must be followed across the nation, regardless of the size and scope of a given demolition project. Additionally, every city, state and county has its own set of demolition codes. In some locations, demolition companies must submit permits in order to legally take down structures.
It behooves demolition companies across the country to conform to the following demolition best practices. While such stringent tactics are not required in all municipalities, following these standards will safeguard demolition companies against many lawsuits and customer complaints:
Proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials. Lead, asbestos and other noxious building materials require special attention. Residential and commercial demolition workers often encounter outdated, dangerous building materials, and they must have the knowhow to dispose of them safely, without causing environmental damage. For instance, up-to-code demolition companies know to contract with a licensed abatement contractor whenever asbestos is involved. The best demolition firms have been around long enough to establish ongoing relationships with abatement contractors and environmental testing laboratories.
On-the-job safety. Top-notch commercial and industrial demolition contractors firm will provide ongoing training to keep employees in the know. Safety depends on education; the outcome of many dangerous demolition situations depends on the knowledge of the employee. For instance, when dismantling an old fuel storage container, a well-educated demolition contractor would appreciate the life-or-death importance of avoiding causing sparks of any kind. Lighting a cigarette in this situation would be a rookie (and potentially deadly) error. A single spark could ignite invisible gases in the tank and set off a major explosion.
Beyond providing consistent on-boarding safety education, demolition companies should focus on:
- Arranging annual trainings on hazardous material and protective gear for operators, workers and foremen.
- Especially stringent certification requirements for project managers and superintendents, such as the 40-hour HAZWOPER program.
- Physical exams and drug tests for all employees. Annual hearing tests should be included in the examination, as well.
Cooperative coexistence with nearby businesses. When demolishing an isolated paper mill or chemical plant, demolition companies don’t have to worry as much about how their work could disrupt neighbors. However, when demolition projects are located near hospitals, schools, homes or businesses, contractors must carefully negotiate with various parties to respectfully remove the target structure. In such cases, piece-by-piece dismantling may be preferred, since it sends less dust and noise into the surrounding environment.
Green demolition: Dismantling, recycling and reusing on-site. Cutting-edge residential and commercial demolition companies use green demolition techniques. One eco-friendly trend is to dismantle by hand so as to save reusable flooring, bricks and other building materials. Another way to make demolition projects greener is to recycle and reuse materials on location. For instance, a well-equipped demolition company could use a concrete crusher on-site to turn chunks of concrete into usable gravel, like we do here at Elder Demolition.
As you can see, demolition is an exacting industry that requires high-level planning on the part of its workers. If you’re vetting demolition companies, be sure to pick one that follows the best practices listed here.