Demolition work 

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

A structure is a fixed or moveable, temporary or permanent constructed object. For example: 

  • buildings 
  • sheds 
  • towers 
  • chimney stacks 
  • silos 
  • storage tanks 

Demolition work does not include: 

  • dismantling structures that provide support, access or containment during construction work – for example, formwork, falsework or scaffolding 
  • removing power, light or telecommunication poles. 

Demolition is a type of ‘construction work’. When carrying out demolition work, you must comply with construction work requirements. 

WHS duties 

Everyone in the workplace has WHS duties under the model WHS Act. You have specific duties if you are:  

  • a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) 
  • a demolition contractor or principal contractor 
  • a designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier and installer of plant, substances or structures 
  • an officer. 

The model WHS Regulations have duties that apply to demolition work. This includes licensing and notification requirements, plant, electrical work, falls from heights, falling objects, asbestos and hazardous chemicals.  

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  
  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 
  • consult cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

Licences for demolition 

Demolition work is dangerous. You need specific skills, training and a licence to do it. 

You also need a licence for: 

Contact your WHS regulator for more information on training and licences for demolition, including asbestos removal. 

Notifiable demolition 

You must notify your WHS regulator 5 days before you: 

  • demolish 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 6 metres high  
  • load shifting machinery on a suspended floor  
  • explosives. 

Managing risks with demolition work 

Before demolition work starts, you must eliminate or minimise the risks, in consultation with people doing the work. For example, talk to the principal contractor, structural engineers and mobile plant operators. 

You must also check for asbestos

Demolition work risks include: 

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

Demolition work may also be classed as high risk construction work. This means you will have other specific duties, including preparing a safe work method statement (SWMS). 

You should manage risks by doing the following:  

  • identifying hazards—find out what could go wrong and what could cause harm. 
  • assessing risks if necessary—understand the harm each hazard could cause, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. 
  • controlling risks—implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the circumstances. 
  • reviewing control measures to ensure they are working as planned. 
  • ongoing consultation with workers. 

All workplaces must have an emergency plan in place. 

Finding asbestos in demolition work  

You must check the asbestos register before you start work. If there is no register, a competent person must inspect the structure for asbestos.  

Before you start work, you must remove any asbestos that demotion work may disturb. 

Supporting information