15. Jun 2017

Maintaining Safety on Demolition Sites

Demolishing a building takes careful planning and research. Professional demolition contractors must make employee safety as well as environmental safety a top priority. If not, they could lose their business licenses. Similar to general contractors, demolition crews must follow OSHA standards that protect employee safety, and they must follow EPA regulations about environmentally safe demolition methods. Hazardous materials, such as asbestos, must be removed according to the regulations prior to demolishing a site.

Integrating Green Techniques in Demolition

Some demolition companies exceed government regulations and find innovate methods of recycling or reusing old materials. This keeps them out of the landfill. Focusing on eco-friendly techniques can have a cost-value for commercial demolition experts, and residential builders can use the same techniques, especially as consumers are demanding “green” construction in new homes. With this in mind, SV Demolition offers these tips to keep in mind.

Limit Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals

Today’s professional residential building contractors are up-to-date on the dangers of lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials that were previously used in home construction. While new homes do not use these dangerous materials, residential contractors are frequently hired to remodel or retrofit older homes to meet current building codes. The following are several materials that are not illegal, but can cause irritation if not handled correctly:

Wood Dust Containing Formaldehyde. This type of wood dust can be inhaled into the nasal passages, and there may be some causative factors in nasal cancer. Particleboard and wood paneling sometimes contain formaldehyde, and when the wood is sanded or cut, the formaldehyde-tainted wood dust is sent into the surrounding air, possibly posing a risk for workers. Wearing protective respiration gear when dealing with potential wood treated with formaldehyde is recommended.

Lead Paint. On occasion, a contractor may encounter jobs including torching steel beams that have previously been painted with lead paint. Even cutting just a few of these beams can expose a worker to airborne lead levels that are extremely high. OSHA requires that employers provide workers with protective clothing, respirators, and hand washing stations in these situations.

Synthetic Mineral Fibers (SMF). These are fibrous products from fiber glass, ceramic, and rock wool, which is a matted fiber used to make insulation. While SMFs don’t reach the hazard level of asbestos, they can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Some have questioned whether SMFs contribute to lung cancer since some contain fiber glass. SV Demolition recommends wearing protective clothing and respirators.

These are just a few of the potentially irritating and hazardous materials that demolition experts and residential builders may encounter and must prepare for when demolishing or retrofitting older buildings. In the next post in this series, SV Demolition will take a look at several other potential hazards. If your team lacks the experience and knowledge in the area of OSHA and EPA standards, consider calling SV Demolition for a consultation.