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Demolition Risk Assessment

All dismantling, demolition and structural alterations need to be planned and undertaken in a manner that prevents danger by practitioners who have the correct knowledge, skills, and experience. The planning process begins with a demolition risk assessment.

Demolition projects must be approached systematically, involving teams of people who have responsibilities:

  • Clients should appoint skilled and experienced duty holders
  • Clients and principal designers should provide pre-construction information to contractors and designers, including surveys and reports covering structural stability, the presence of asbestos, and line services above and below ground
  • Principal designers should monitor, manage, and coordinate health and safety prior to demolition
  • Principal contractors must manage health and safety when demolition begins
  • Sub-contractors should follow the plans and instructions given to them

What to include

A demolition risk assessment should consider dangers and risks relating to:

  • Falls from height – includes risks of workers falling from edges, though fragile surfaces, openings, and partly demolished floors
  • Fire – includes risks from tools that cause sparks, heat, or flames
  • Hazardous materials – includes asbestos, dust, respirable crystalline silica, paints, acids, microbiological hazards, flammable liquids, and unlabelled drums
  • Uncontrolled collapses – consider the age of the structure, its use, nearby buildings, and type of construction
  • Falling materials – includes flying debris and premature structural collapse
  • Vibrations and noise – includes hand tools and machinery
  • Connected services – includes electricity, water, gas, and telecommunications
  • Worker involvement – includes awareness of the risks and precautions of the worksite

Each activity and hazard should be identified in the demolition risk assessment with its risk level and the likelihood of occurrence. Risk levels are typically denoted as:

  • Low risk – safe to continue with no additional controls
  • Medium risk – caution and adequate control is needed
  • High risk – must not be done

How can risks be avoided

Once risks are identified in the demolition risk assessment, controls and procedures need to be arranged to minimise hazards. This action should include:

Falls from height – assess, control, and eliminate risks, and remove tripping hazards from scaffolding

Fire – keep the plan updated with fire points and escape routes as demolition progresses

Hazardous materials – follow regulations for removing material that are hazardous to health

Uncontrolled collapses – identify the sequence of events to prevent accidental collapses and post sentries where walls face public pathways and roads

Falling materials – keep people away from the risks using covered walkways, exclusion zoons, hard hat areas, high-reach machines, and machines with reinforced cabs

Vibrations and noise – provide PPE such as ear defenders and manage workers exposure to vibrating tools

Connected services – disconnect, isolate, or label cables and pipes clearly

Worker involvement – ensure all workers are aware of health and safety, follow stipulated precautions, and wear PPE such as hard hats, goggles, boots, ear defenders, dust masks, hi-vis clothing, and flame retardant workwear, as appropriate

Risk Assessment Examples

There is no set format or template for creating your own demolition risk assessment set out by the government or within construction regulations. However, the Health and Safety Executive has collated resources for managing health and safety in construction. These resources include a Construction Phase Plan, which can be viewed as a demolition risk assessment example. This demolition risk assessment sample can be modified for the complexity of the demolition work being undertaken.

If you intend to create your own risk assessment, you should include key areas:

  • Identify each action and the dangers associated with it
  • Determine its risk level
  • State the controls that will be put in place
  • Identify who will put controls in place and monitor conformity


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