Recent fatalities serve as a reminder to protect workers from demolition hazards
OSHA launches updated website, training resources for construction demolition industry
By Jesse Lawder
On June 20, a construction worker taking down an old Blockbuster Video building in New Jersey was trapped and killed when the last standing wall of a building under demolition collapsed on top of him. Six months earlier, a 25-year-old construction worker in Chicago was struck and killed by pieces of falling concrete while conducting renovations on a shopping mall. These tragedies follow the June 5, 2013, collapse of a four-story building undergoing demolition in Philadelphia that killed six people and injured 14. These deaths could have been prevented. To help prevent these tragedies and save lives, OSHA has developed new educational resources and training for the construction demolition industry.
“Demolition workers face many hazards and their lives should not be sacrificed because of deliberate neglect of demolition fundamentals,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Employers must ensure that all workers involved in a demolition project are fully aware of hazards and safety precautions before work begins and as it progresses.”
OSHA recently launched an updated demolition website to address the hazards common in demolition operations and the safety measures that can be taken to prevent them. The updated Demolition page provides information on applicable OSHA standards, hazard assessments, measures that can be taken to prevent injuries and illnesses before site work begins, and a link for stakeholders to share stories about demolition safety.
From 2009 to 2013, OSHA issued nearly 1,000 citations for violations of OSHA’s construction demolition standards. The most common citation issued was for failure to conduct an engineering survey to determine the condition of the structure prior to demolition. This includes determining whether an unplanned collapse of the building or any adjacent structure would injure those working in the vicinity.
To ramp up efforts to protect demolition workers, OSHA recently provided demolition training courses on construction safety to federal, state and local government personnel with construction safety responsibilities in the Philadelphia area.
About the Author
Jesse Lawder is the Special Assistant at U.S. Department of Labor.