Safety Measures To Follow When Using A Demolition Crane

When it comes to demolition, there are a few main ways a building or structure is taken down. Explosives, mechanically using an excavator, or demolition crane with a wrecking ball attached, or manually. The type of structure to be demolished, materials used in its construction, its location and surrounding landscape, (built-up area, industrial estate, or stand-alone), will all have a bearing on how the work is carried out.

Here at Emerson Crane Hire, we are regularly called on to work with main contractors, to demolish various structures using one of our mobile cranes fitted with a wrecking ball. However, before that situation is reached, planning and research needs to be carried out on both the building and its immediate vicinity, to ensure compliance with all relevant health and safety legislation. A number of demolition safety procedures also need to be put in place, to minimise the risk of injury to site personnel and the general public.

Main contractor safety responsibilities

Prior to the commencement of operations, the main contractor has to carry out a full building survey, often going back to the original plans. These may include the materials used and type of construction, load-bearing points, and the current structural integrity of the site. Were any hazardous materials used in its construction. Have all the main services, gas, water and electric been isolated, including underground cables, and are there any combustible materials still on site.

A competent, overall site manager should be designated. All main contractor personnel involved in the operation need to be fully informed of how things are to be undertaken, and their part in the project. Health and safety regulations have to be fully complied with, including the use of steel-capped work boots, gloves, hard-hats, eye protection, and high-vis tabards and vests. Any vehicles involved in the operation should have reinforced safety cabs for driver/operator protection.

Sub-contractor safety responsibilities

Safe demolition is very much a team effort, with the main contractor working closely with subcontractors to ensure maximum safety when work commences. A large exclusion zone needs to be put in place around the working area, if necessary using nets and hoardings, to avoid the risk of injury to workers and passers-by from flying debris.

Dust can be a major problem on demolition sites, especially in populated areas, and the use of hoses to spray the working area during operations should be considered. During demolition crane and wrecking ball operations, working staff need to know all the safe areas they can gather in, while the vehicle is working.

Wrecking ball demolition is a highly skilled operation. Nonetheless, accidents do happen, and the slightest miscalculation by the crane operator can bring down a much greater area of the building than was initially envisaged. With this in mind, additional safety procedures and safe distances should be put in place to allow for all eventualities.

Salvaging materials

The construction industry is one of the country’s biggest polluters, and the sector is actively working towards reducing its carbon footprint. All demolition these days, especially pre-war brick and timber constructions, involves reclaiming as much of the original materials (bricks and timber) as possible, for reuse or recycling.

Skips used for the purpose of separating different materials should be sited well away from the operations area, and machines used for the recovery of materials from a partly demolished building should all have safety cabs fitted, and only be allowed to access the area when it is deemed safe to do so.

If you would like more information on demolition best practices, site health and safety, or to discuss any concerns or queries you may have regarding demolition safety procedures or safe demolition crane operations, please contact a member of our team today.