Demolition work means any work that involves the demolition or dismantling of a structure or part of a structure that is load-bearing or is related to the physical integrity of the structure.

It does not include:

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

PCBUs, employers and workers are to refer to the Demolition work - Code of Practice.

Notifiable demolition work

A PCBU (or holder of the Contractor's licence) must notify us at least 5 days before commencing demolition work if it involves:

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

Identifying hazards

Demolition work should be carefully planned. The best way to manage risks associated with demolition work is to carry out a risk assessment.

Identify any hazards associated with any demolition work:

  • walk around the work area and look for hazards
  • consult with your workers on any potential hazards of which they are aware
  • check records of previous demolition injuries, including 'near miss' incidents.

You should also consult, co-ordinate and co-operate with any other duty holders if they are involved in the same activities or share the same workplace eg mobile plant operators, structural engineers or asbestos removalists.

Common demolition hazards include:

  • electricity supply still being connected
  • unplanned structure collapse
  • falls from one level to another
  • falling objects
  • the location of above and underground essential services
  • exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • hazardous noise from plant and explosives used in demolition work
  • proximity of the building or structure being demolished to other buildings or structures.

Assessing the risk

A risk assessment will help you to determine what control measures you need to implement. A risk assessment is compulsory when working with asbestos or explosives.

When assessing the risks associated with demolition work you should consider:

  • the structure to be demolished and its structural integrity
  • the method of demolition including its sequencing
  • the scheduling of work
  • the layout of the workplace
  • what plant and equipment will be used and the skill and experience required by the people who will use it safely
  • what exposures might occur
  • the number of people involved
  • local weather conditions.

Controlling the risks

The ways of controlling risks are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. You must work through this hierarchy when managing risk.

The highest control measures involve eliminating hazards and the associated risks.

If it is not possible to eliminate the risk, then you must minimise the risk by using one of the following control measures, or a combination of control measures:

  • substituting the hazard with something safe (eg using a mechanical demolition method rather than a manual method, if safe)
  • isolating the hazard (eg using concrete barriers to separate pedestrians and powered mobile plant to reduce the risk of collision)
  • using engineering controls (eg fitting an open cab excavator with a falling objects protective structure to minimise the risk of being struck by a falling object)
  • using administrative controls (eg installing warning signs).

If there are any remaining risks then suitable personal protective equipment should be provided to workers, such as hard hats, steel cap boots and high visibility vests.

Regularly review all control measures in place to make sure they remain effective.