10 Tips for Staying Safe on a Demolition Site

9th August 2017

Health and Safety is a priority on all demolition sites in the UK. We’ve taken it to the next level with our SiteZone Proximity Warning System. There are multiple considerations that need to be made before machines and workers step onto the demolition site. Below we list our top 10 tips for staying safe on a demolition site.

1. Be Asbestos Aware

Demolition and Refurbishment asbestos surveys and subsequent removal of licenced and non-licenced asbestos must be carried out before any demolition work can take place. Totally independent UKAS approved analysts are employed by Hughes and Salvidge to undertake air sampling/fibre counting and bulk sampling in full compliance with EN450001. Only once all licenced and non-licenced asbestos has been removed can the demolition phase of a project begin. Even then, all Hughes and Salvidge operatives are UKATA asbestos awareness qualified, meaning that if hidden asbestos is discovered in the demolition process (that couldn’t be seen on the initial survey) our staff are qualified to recognise the material and operations cease until the licenced asbestos is removed by the specialist contractor again. Our operatives are qualified to remove non-licenced asbestos in a safe manner.

Asbestos is safely removed to prepare for a building demolition

Asbestos is safely removed prior to demolition

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Must Be Worn

As a minimum, 5-part PPE must be worn at all times on site by any operative. 5-Part PPE constitutes Hard Hat, Safety Glasses, High-Visibility Vest/Jacket, Safety Gloves, and Steel-Toe Cap Boots. Hughes and Salvidge’s Safety Health Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Department manage the distribution of PPE to our operatives and ensure it complies to BS and other relevant standards. Required standards of PPE can vary, depending on the project being undertaken or a client’s specific requirements, and we ensure all our PPE satisfies each circumstance. All of our PPE is also compliant with HSE regulations and we also supply operatives with any specialised PPE outside of the basic 5-part, for example face masks, welding masks, fire-proof overalls, Kevlar gloves or anything else needed to safely carry out a specific task. The stringent management of our PPE store by our SHEQ department allows the correct PPE to be allocated to the correct project, without delay or risk to safety to any personnel.

3. Prevent Accidents with Training, Qualification and Experience

To ensure we complete projects safely and to the highest standards, we work to BS6187: 2011 standards and place particular emphasis on training and keeping our techniques and working practices completely up to date. Our training and qualification system for all employees is paramount to our Health, Safety and Environmental systems and procedures.  All employees have the appropriate qualifications and experience for the assigned tasks they undertake and our site teams are closely monitored by Site Supervisors at all times. To give examples, our Directors have a range of qualifications including IDE Membership, NEBOSH, NVQs, CSCS and CPCS qualified. Our Contracts Managers, SHEQ Manager and Site Managers have qualifications such as CMIOSH, IOSH, NEBOSH, NVQs, CSCS, CPCS, CITB, CCNSG, and ARCA. Our Site Supervisors have qualifications including NVQs, CSCS, CPCS, CITB, CCNSG, and ARCA, and our Site and Plant Operatives have qualifications including NVQs, CSCS, CPCS, CITB, CCNSG, and ARCA. To support this portfolio of staff and their qualifications our SHEQ Department maintains a Training Matrix. This ensures all qualifications are in-date and that every operative is experienced in the duty they are carrying out, but also allows operatives to have a training plan so development can be encouraged as operatives become more experienced in the industry and therefore qualification standards can be improved as they progress.

Three excavators working on a building demolition

Demolitions are completed by fully trained staff

4. Monitor Noise, Vibration and Dust

Environmental safety is also paramount on a demolition project. Noise, vibration and dust are common bi-products of demolition work and we ensure they are monitored and managed to minimise disruption to neighbouring parties to the site, and to minimise the effect on our own operatives. Dust is monitored and controlled by us by means of damping down using temporary water supplies around the site. This supply is arranged with local water authority for permission and metering. During structural demolition dust suppression is via fire hoses with operatives gaining access above the structure, where necessary, to enable water to be sprayed directly onto the workface. Dust is also controlled by a Dust Boss water curtain. The proposed system is a fully automatic, oscillating ducted fan with a high pressure misting system that creates a Virtual Dust Barrier. This system helps significantly in minimising dust from the demolition, in both implosions and excavator processing/material removal applications, reducing the potential for health concerns and complaints.

Regular noise and vibration monitoring is conducted throughout all our projects with reports being issued to the client’s project team. Working hours can also be adjusted to ensure avoidable ‘noisy’ activities are undertaken at times that have minimal impact on the public. Throughout the demolition process, noise is to be kept to a minimum; this is achieved in various ways – Use of correct plant for specific tasks and ensuring plant is fully maintained; Using ‘quietest’ method when both demolishing structures and removing hardcore and concrete, i.e. using bucket or pulveriser rather than impact breakers; Leaving part of the external envelope of particular buildings intact whilst removing materials. This will be determined by structural stability as demolitions proceed; Ensuring works are only carried out within agreed working hours.

A building demolition operating under controlled conditions

Demolition requires carefully controlled conditions

5. A Clean Site is a Safe Site

Maintaining a clean and tidy site is a key factor in the successful and safe delivery of works on any demolition site. The surrounding area of a site is kept clean and tidy at all times. Measures such as road cleaning are actioned, if required. Housekeeping is paramount to promote a safe working environment and to also ensure that the demolition arisings and other materials from the site are dealt with appropriately. A safe site compound is imperative and welfare facilities are provided for operatives to take breaks away from the operational area of the site.

When Hughes and Salvidge are Principal Contractor we favour the use of the Oasis type of welfare unit on site. This unit contains separate messing, toilet, office and storage facilities. Running water and heating are also available via an independent generator. The following provisions are generally made: Drinking water; Lavatory and washing facilities; Facilities to change and store clothing; Store room for PPE, etc.; Refuge against extremes of weather; Generator to provide heating and lighting; Hot water; Separate messing facility with seats and tables; Kettle (or urn); Microwave for heating food.

At tender stage, Management assess the welfare requirements that will be needed for each site in relation to the number of operatives, the geographical restrictions of the site, etc. The Site Manager/Supervisor is responsible for taking delivery and inspecting any welfare facilities and ensuring that they are maintained to a clean and hygienic condition. Should any item of equipment become unusable, or if additional consumables are needed, the Site Manager/Supervisor will report to Management who will arrange for repair or replenishment as necessary. Safe access to the welfare facilities will be detailed within the Health and Safety Plan and will form part of the Site Induction. Site welfare facilities will also be open to inspection by the SHEQ Department when carrying out site inspections.

Within the Mess Room there will be a project notice board. General Health and Safety information will be displayed on this board. In particular the following items will be displayed: General Site Safety Rules, Emergency Rules, Map to Local Accident and Emergency Hospital, Identity of First Aider on site, Location of First Aid supplies, HSE Law Poster, Health and Safety Policy Statement,   Environment Policy Statement, Quality Policy Statement, Insurance certificate.

Maintaining a clean and tidy site are key factors in the successful delivery of works on any demolition site. We segregate and process arisings on site as we go along, rather than demolishing and cleaning up afterwards which is the way some companies operate.

It is the responsibility of all site employees to ensure that a clean working environment is achieved and the Site Supervisor monitors and reports on this by completing daily sight inspections and a weekly site audit. The Site Supervisor will also appoint an operative to carry out the cleaning of the site welfare facilities on a daily basis and replenish with supplies as necessary.

Man in high-vis vest looking at demolition vehicle

Effective cleaning and housekeeping are vital for safe demolition

6. Manage Traffic Movement

Traffic Management Plans are established during the planning phase of a project and updated/amended as the works commence and progress on site. Segregation of pedestrians and vehicles is implemented, giving clear and unhindered pedestrian walkways and vehicle access to all required areas of site. Gatemen assist with flow and control of traffic on site and a stringent speed limit 5 mph is enforced. One-way systems are established to minimise the need for reversing and reversing cameras are on vehicles and plant to eliminate the need for operatives to be in close proximity to vehicles. Furthermore, traffic movements (including deliveries) are timed to avoid rush hour traffic at both ends of the day so no queuing of construction traffic will occur.

7. Risk Assessment and Method Statements are Essential

Risk Assessments and subsequent Method Statements are fundamental elements in the safe planning, preparation and undertaking of a project. Upon award of a contract, Hughes and Salvidge have a structured approach to ensure the provision and control of safety from project conception to completion, taking into consideration the Pre-construction Information and other relevant documents provided at tender stage. Prior to commencing the works, a pre-start meeting/tour of the site will take place.  The Site Supervisor, Contracts Manager and SHEQ Manager walk the site and list all risks that are associated with the works.  These are then recorded and written up into a Risk Assessment document.  Method statements are then produced based upon controlling the risks.

Weekly site visits by the Contracts Manager and Health and SHEQ Manager also ensures that work is being carried out in accordance with the approved Method Statement. All activities undertaken by Hughes and Salvidge are in accordance with the approved programme of work, phased operations and safe demolition techniques and the activities will be planned and undertaken in line with the Risk Assessments, Method Statements, Project Health and Safety Plan and Environmental Plan.

8. Be Aware of Proximity to Plant

Demolition projects often have large plant and machines working on site, along with on-ground operatives. This obviously creates potential danger. It is therefore imperative that clear plans and rules are put in place before the start of works, and these are incorporated into Risk Assessments and Method Statements to ensure the on-ground personnel are never in danger from an operating piece of plant or machinery. In addition to this, Hughes and Salvidge have also taken the initiative to use a Close Proximity Warning System – called SiteZone – on their plant and machines.

All Hughes and Salvidge plant vehicles being used at Heathrow Airport have been fitted with SiteZone which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) detection. This means that SiteZone can see around corners, through dust and smoke and in poor light conditions, giving targeted warning alarms to both drivers and workers on foot should they enter each other’s working area.

Vehicles are fitted with SiteZone base stations, while site workers have RFID transponders fitted to their hard hat or sleeve. When a site worker breaches a predefined detection zone, both the worker and driver receive a ‘proximity warning’. The RFID tag vibrates, making the site worker aware of the vehicle, while the driver is alerted by sound and flashing lights in the cab of the vehicle. This two-way alarm feature is fundamental to site safety, since responsibility for avoiding accidents is shared by both parties.

Worksite at Didcot with power plant in background

Worksite for Didcot Power Station demolition

9. Maintain a Stream of Communication and Encourage Feedback

Communication with a client, company management, site operatives and neighbouring residents or businesses to a project are key to maintaining safety on site. We ensure that all Health and Safety information is collated and passed on to a client for incorporation into the Health and Safety file. On site, Health, Safety and Environmental information is disseminated to the site team to ensure maximum communication, education and awareness.  Methods include: Tool Box Talks; Company Memo’s; Presentations; Seminars; Pre-Construction Information; Health & Safety Plans; Method Statements; Risk Assessments; COSHH Assessments; Permit to Work.

All site operatives and sub-contractors are issued with the Risk Assessments and Method Statements to read and understand the system and sequence of works. This also provides an opportunity for them to comment on any potential issues. Upon agreement, they sign the documents agreeing to work and comply with the Method Statement, Risk Assessments and other associated documentation.

At Hughes and Salvidge, we listen to our operatives and site staff as they are at the forefront of our operations.  We have an ‘open door’ policy and encourage feedback and suggestions for improvements. All senior management, including Managing Director, Martyn Burnett, visit our sites on a regular basis to ensure standards are being upheld and to speak directly to our workforce.  This hands-on approach ensures everyone understands how seriously we take all matters relating to Health and Safety and how much we value input at all levels.  We also hold regular workforce safety committee meetings and formal meetings with site supervisors to engage their thoughts as well.

Indoor space with plastic sheet divider walls

An area prepared for the controlled removal of waste

10. Manage Waste Disposal

Planning waste streams are identified as part of the risk assessment process and are a key safety measure on a demolition project. The control measures required are then selected to ensure that on site techniques, which assist the segregation and containment of the different materials, are used. Contingency plans are also made at this stage as to what precautions should be taken to minimise the potential for harm to be caused in the event of a spillage or other form of release.

In order to fulfil the Duty of Care as a producer, Hughes and Salvidge ensures that all waste is properly identified, accurately described and labelled before it is passed onto the waste disposal carrier. If the waste produced is of a complex nature, Hughes and Salvidge may employ specialist external resources to advise on the identification and disposal methods to be employed. If appropriate, samples of waste will be taken for laboratory chemical testing. From these results, safe disposal options may be based and evaluated.

Hughes and Salvidge ensure that a waste management licence for that specific waste type covers the chosen disposal facility and that the site has sufficient capacity to receive the waste. All controlled and hazardous waste, by definition, will be handled, processed, packaged and disposed in line with current approved codes of practice, associated legislation, Hughes and Salvidge established procedures and client documented systems.

Summary: 10 Tips for Staying Safe on a Demolition Site

  1. Be Asbestos aware
  2. Personal protective equipment (PPE) Must be worn
  3. Prevent accidents with training, qualification and experience
  4. Monitor noise, vibration and dust
  5. Keep the site clean
  6. Manage traffic movement
  7. Risk assessment and method statements are essential
  8. Be aware of proximity to plant
  9. Maintain a stream of communication
  10. Manage waste disposal
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