Demolition means dismantling or demolishing a structure or its part, which is load-bearing or otherwise connected to the structure's physical integrity. This type of work comes under the construction segment and is governed by the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations. It is a High-Risk Construction Work (HRCW), and therefore, a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) must be prepared before the commencement of the work. A person or undertaking that does demolition work is responsible for preparing an SWMS so that workers and other people are not subjected to any health and safety risks arising from it.
Planning a Demolition Work
Planning includes preparing a layout for the demolition work. It includes finding out hazards, risk assessment, and taking the correct measures in consultation with all the relevant people, including the principal contractor, demolition contractor, structural engineers, and mobile operators. In case the demolition contractor is also the principal contractor, then the plan should be as per the WHS management plan. Some other important aspects of planning are discussed in the following sections:
1. Notice for the Demolition Work
For any demolition activity to be done, a notice has to be provided by the person or undertaking conducting the business to the regulator. The right time to issue the notice for demolition is 5 days before the commencement of work. The details of the notification must have the site address, name of the person or undertaking carrying out the activity, name and contact details of the supervisor, date of the notice, nature of demolition, explosive usage along with license details, and the tentative commencement and completion dates. In addition to them, if the work is an HRCW, then the name and contact details of the principal contractor or the person’s representative are also required.
2. Role of Principal Contractor
For any construction project of more than $2, 50,000, there are some additional duties of the principal contractor (PC) in addition to the basic ones. They include making and reviewing the WHS management plan, putting ample safeguards in place like first aid, falls, traffic management, emergency plan, etc. The complete onus of securing the workplace rests on the PC, and obtaining the SWMS before work commencement is also the person’s duty. Additionally, there have to be signboards at the construction site mentioning the PC’s name, contact information, and any site office location. If demolition is involved, a license may be needed for the same for which advice can be taken from the WHS or building regulator.
3. Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)
An SWMS is needed before starting an HRCW (high-risk construction work). It must identify the type of HRCW, health, and safety risks associated with the work, risk control methods, implementation, monitoring, and review. An SWMS can be prepared by consulting contractors and/or subcontractors to cover all types of HRCW, or separate SWMS can also be prepared.
4. Dealing with Asbestos
If any demolition involves asbestos removal then the person conducting the business should seek the help of an asbestos removal expert as per the types of license – Class A and Class B. The expert handling the asbestos removal varies based on the type and amount of asbestos, asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD) or the asbestos-containing material (ACM) to be removed from the place.
5. Adjoining and Nearby Structures
A demolition exercise should not adversely affect the structural integrity of the nearby buildings. Therefore, lateral support should be provided to them so that they do not get disturbed. The demolishing exercise should also not cause flooding or any water-related issues for the adjacent structures.
In addition to all these pre-demolition exercises, it is important for the PC to ensure that all essential services like gas supply, sewerage, electricity, fuel, water, telecommunication, etc. are disconnected and are without any risks for the health and safety of all stakeholders, and people at or near the demolition site. Therefore, adhering to these points and planning demolition work is very important so that it can be done in a satisfactory manner.
A professional demolition contractor will ensure the same. Make sure that you enquire about their credibility and experience before hiring their services.