It’s possible. Even when explosives aren’t involved, demolition operations are inherently dangerous and can cause deadly injuries from falling debris or building collapse. Employers and site owners must uphold certain standards to protect employees during demolition, and failure to follow New York Industrial Code provisions could lead to a construction site negligence lawsuit.

Safety Guidelines During Mechanical Demolition Under the NY Industrial Code

Wrecking Ball in the Middle of a Construction Site in New YorkNY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors must comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.

The Department of Labor has created specific construction safety rules in Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code to protect people employed in construction, demolition, or excavation work. Under N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 12 § 23-3.4, any swinging weight attached to a crane boom, clamshell bucket, power shovel, bulldozer, or any other mechanical equipment for the purpose of demolition shall be in accordance with the following requirements:

  • Height restrictions. The building, wall, structure, or any remaining portion thereof must not be higher than 80 feet above the ground or surface level.
  • Stability of the structure. No walls, chimneys, or other parts of the building being demolished may not be left unsupported or unguarded if there is a possibility that it could collapse, drop parts or debris, or be weakened by wind pressure or vibration.
  • Demolition zones. If mechanical devices or equipment are being used in demolition operations, a zone of demolition must be established and maintained around the area into which the structure or its debris may fall. This zone of demolition must be at least one and one-half times the height of the structure being demolished (or any portion thereof).
  • Swinging weights. If a swinging weight is used in demolition operations, a zone of demolition with a radius of at least one and one-half times the height of the structure (or any portion thereof) must be maintained around the points of impact. The supporting cables of any swinging weight must be of such length (or so restrained) that it is not possible for the weight to swing against any other building or structure than the one being demolished. If a clamshell bucket is used in demolition operations, the zone of demolition must extend at least 25 feet on both sides of the line of travel of the bucket.
  • Restricted access. Only people who are essential to the operation of the demolition devices or equipment shall be permitted to enter any zone of demolition. Substantial barricades meeting the requirements of the New York Industrial Code must be constructed and installed wherever there is a likelihood of any unauthorized person entering the zone of demolition. The controls of any mechanical device or equipment used in demolition operations must be located and operated at a safe and reasonable distance from the point of demolition.

Let Us Advise You After Construction Site Accident

If you or someone you love was hurt during demolition operations, we can help you through this difficult time. The experienced injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer will fight tenaciously to recover the payment you deserve for your medical bills and lost income. Contact us today at (800) 362-9329 to discuss your next steps or learn more about your rights in our FREE guide, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.


Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.