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Don't let the house fall down - 08/12/2011 10:54

This week, BOC focuses on guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on how to ensure structural stability during alteration, demolition and dismantling.  Stringent planning is essential to avoid uncontrolled structural collapse and flying debris, which can injure workers and passers-by.

What you need to do

The law  says that all alteration, demolition and dismantling work should be carefully planned and carried out by competent people to avoid unplanned structural collapse.  The law requires commercial clients to provide contractors with relevant information about a building’s structure, including stability and structural form and any significant design assumptions, suggested work methods and sequences. The contractor must then use that information to plan and carry out the work safely.

Key requirements are:

  • Survey and assessment
  • Preventing structural collapse
  • Arrangements for demolition
  • Consulting building control departments

Survey and assessment

A competent person should do a thorough structural survey and assessment before any potentially load-bearing parts of a structure are altered.  The structural survey should consider the age of the structure; previous use; the type of construction; and any nearby buildings or structures.  This information should be used to determine the steps required to prevent any collapse.

Preventing structural collapse

A competent person should decide the method and design of temporary supports. Temporary support provided must be designed, installed and maintained to withstand foreseeable loads and structures should never be overloaded.

Arrangements for demolition

Demolition or dismantling arrangements should be written down before the work begins. This safe system of work may be in the form of a safety method statement identifying the sequence required to prevent accidental collapse of the structure.

In addition to the design and method of temporary supports, a safe system of work may include the following: established exclusion zones and hard-hat areas, clearly marked and with barriers or hoardings; covered walkways; using high-reach machines; reinforced machine cabs to avoid driver injury; and trained and supervised site workers.

Consulting building control departments

You should consult the building control department of the local authority in the area where a building is located before any structural alterations are made to a building. The Local Authority is the enforcing body for building regulations.

What to do next

BOC safety experts can advise on the sorts of safety equipment you need to meet safety requirements in structural development environments.   From fall arrest to hard hats and safety boots, BOC supplies a full range.  Browse products on our website, or call 0800 111 333 to find out more.

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