Why are There Specific PPE Requirements for the Demolition of Old Buildings?

construction-workers-on-roofWhenever a building is set to be demolished, a commercial demolition contractor must take certain precautions in order to ensure that any hazards are safely dealt with.

Taking down an old building is not just a matter of collapsing the building as quickly as possible. In fact, a high level of precision is used, which means the operation can be quite profitable.

Oregon demolition contractors, like Elder Demolition, can recover building materials, like scrap metal and concrete, for recycling and to offset the costs of demolition.

General Personal Protective Equipment for Oregon Demolition Services

Whether it is helping recovery efforts in disaster sites, or clearing way for new developments, an industrial demolition company begins any project with a survey of the site. The existing structure is examined and any hazardous materials are noted. These can include materials like asbestos, lead paint, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

These hazards must be assessed first thing in order for the right demolition plan to be designed. Older homes in Portland, Oregon may contain asbestos in any number of parts of the building. The most common personal protective equipment needed on a construction site, as recommended by OSHA, are:

  • Hard hats
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves appropriate for the job
  • Protective footwear
  • Respiratory protection

PPE for Asbestos Removal

Asbestos can be found in old buildings and was used in many household products due to its high resistance to heat. It can be found in older buildings in places like:

  • Insulation
  • Stucco
  • Backing behind lighting
  • Artificial fireplaces
  • Fuse boxes
  • Textured ceilings
  • Pipe insulation

Asbestos can linger in the air as a fine dust, and it is these particles that can cause lung cancer. When dealing with asbestos, protective clothing and respirator masks are needed to be worn by the demolition crew. 

PPE for Lead Paint

Lead paint was commonly used in houses older than 1960. Now the EPA requires that any demolition company that removes lead paint be certified. Lead is a poison that affects many parts of the human body. Its effects are broad, ranging from depression to brain damage. It is especially dangerous to children with developing nervous systems. 


Special equipment is used to decrease dust generation, like local exhaust ventilation and dust collection systems. Clothing used in lead paint removal is removed in an isolated area, and the hands and face are washed before eating, drinking, or smoking. Such precautions ensure that lead exposure is kept at a minimum.

Keeping the demolition safe is the foremost thing on a demolition expert’s mind. Safety can be enhanced by the use of precision tools and a comprehensive safety training program

Asset Recovery Services Can Offset the Costs of Building Demolition

The use of precision tools during a demolition means that many materials recovered from a demolition site can be recycled. In some cases a demolition contractor can help offset the costs of the demolition through the use of an asset recovery service

Concrete Crushing & Recycling

Concrete is one of the most commonly used building materials, but it also offers a great return when recycled. Recovered concrete is crushed into smaller parts which is then used to create new concrete, saving it from going into the landfill and providing a source of revenue from the demolition itself. You may even get LEED points from recycling concrete. The demand for concrete aggregate will continue to increase as aggregate sources become depleted.

Scrap Metal Recovery

Similarly, scrap metal can be recovered to be smelted down to create even more metal for use in building projects. Many metals found in a building can be highly valuable assets. These metals can be found in windows, pipes, doors, flooring, structural beams, walls, and more. 

In addition to offsetting demo costs, recovering scrap metal means diverting waste from entering a landfill. 

Oregon’s Contractor for Demolition Services, Asset Recovery & More

We’ve made it our mission to go beyond the industry safety standards, investing in both quality demolition equipment and in safety training for our workers. 

Our safety programs include full physical evaluations, annual training in asbestos, lead, and fall protection, specialized equipment safety, and training on how to maintain worker health while on the job.

Elder Demolition is a first-class, full-service demolition company, offering a wide range of services, from asset recovery to building demolition in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. We pride ourselves in creating a safe environment while offering quality demolition services.  Contact us today.

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