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Demolition work is when you knock down or dismantle a structure or part of a structure that is load-bearing or somehow related to the physical integrity of the structure.

  • A structure is anything that is constructed, whether fixed or moveable, temporary or permanent and includes buildings, sheds, towers, chimney stacks, silos and storage tanks.

Demolition does not include:

  • dismantling formwork, falsework, scaffolding or other structures designed or used to provide support, access or containment during construction work
  • removing power, light or telecommunication poles.

Risks associated with demolition

There are a range of health and safety risks associated with demolition work including:

  • unplanned structure collapse
  • falls from one level to another
  • falling objects.

Managing risks associated with demolition

You should try to eliminate or minimise risks associated with demolition work during the planning stage, before work starts.

  • Risk management planning at the start of a planned demolition is critical to preventing deaths.

During the planning stage you need to identify hazards, assess risks and work out appropriate control measures in consultation with those relevant to the work, for example the principal contractor, demolition contractor, structural engineers and mobile plant operators.

Examples of reducing risk during demolition work

  • Substitution—for example use a mechanical demolition method rather than a manual one.
  • Isolation—for example use concrete barriers to separate pedestrians and powered mobile plant to reduce the risk of collision.
  • Engineering controls—for example fit an open cab excavator with a falling objects protective structure to minimise the risk of being struck by a falling object.

If risk remains you must minimise it by implementing administrative controls, so far as is reasonably practicable.

  • For example, install warning signs and establish an exclusion zone around the demolition work. Any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable PPE, such as providing workers with hard hats, steel cap boots and high visibility vests.

Important information

A licence is required to carry out some demolition work.

  • Contact your WHS regulator for more information on demolition licensing. If asbestos needs to be removed you may need the relevant asbestos removal licence.

You must notify your WHS regulator five days in advance of work being carried out that involves:

  • demolition of a structure, or a part of a structure that is load bearing or otherwise related to the physical integrity of the structure, that is at least six metres high
  • demolition work involving load shifting machinery on a suspended floor
  • demolition work involving explosives.

Further advice

SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about demolition work. If you need help, please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority.

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