It can take years to build a skyscraper, but the demolition of the same building can be done in a matter of minutes. Although demolition is extremely dangerous, it is often carried out as quickly and cheaply as possible, placing workers at risk of severe and even fatal injuries. Employees who are hurt as a result of a contractor’s poor planning or lack of safety precautions may be owed payment for their medical bills, lost income, and disability.
Different Types of Demolition Pose Different Injury Risks
Since there are several ways a building can be torn down, contractors have a duty to choose the right method for the type of structure being demolished. In most cases, the right method is the one that is the safest and simplest for the job. Unfortunately, contractors and site owners may opt for the fastest or cheapest method, skipping risk assessment and planning stages in order to move work along more quickly.
Common methods used to demolish buildings include:
Manual demolition is a labor-intensive process that involves workers dismantling the structure piece by piece. It is commonly referred to as deconstruction, as each building component is systematically removed in the reverse order of construction. The biggest advantage of deconstruction is that it allows building materials to be recycled or reused in other projects. The disadvantage is that it can take much longer than other demolition methods, and each worker will have to be outfitted with personal protective equipment to prevent injuries from dust and falling objects.
Most modern demolitions involve the use of heavy machinery (such as cranes, excavators, or bulldozers) to pull or push the structure down. The process can be completed much more quickly than manual demolition, and typically requires fewer laborers to get the job done. However, mechanical demolition typically involves work from heights and a variety of mechanical equipment, exposing workers to falls from elevated work platforms and the risk of crush injuries.
Building implosion is commonly used for large structures in heavily populated areas, and involves the strategic timing and placement of explosives to collapse the building safely. The explosives are detonated in a way that causes the structure to collapse in on itself in a matter of seconds, minimizing damage to its surroundings. These demolitions must be carried out by explosive experts (to ensure the demolition is carried out safely) and building designers (to decide which structural components should house the explosives).
Common Injuries During Demolition on a NYC Worksite
Employers and construction site managers have a duty to perform demolitions in the safest possible manner. This includes performing pre-demolition planning, risk assessment on the site, creating specialized construction supervision and work teams, and choosing a reputable contractor for the demolition work. Failure to complete proper planning and supervision can lead to a wide range of injuries, including:
Collapsing structures are the biggest cause of fatalities during demolition, many of which occur as a result of improper training. Workers may be injured because they were not warned that an area was unstable, or because the structure fell down unintentionally.
Workers can fall through fragile material (such as windows and skylights), off edges, through holes, or from ladders or scaffolds.
Live wires or overhead power lines on a demolition site can cause a sudden electrical discharge, resulting in painful shocks or fatal electrocution in construction workers.
Workers may be struck by flying debris, objects swinging on cranes, building components lifted by mechanical machinery, or even struck by the machinery itself.
Explosions and Fires.
Fires are a risk in all demolition work, not just those involving times explosives. Failure to shut off gas lines to a structure or properly remove boilers can cause severe burns or asphyxiation.
Workers must wear respirators during demolition work to avoid exposure to airborne particles, particularly asbestos present in older buildings.
If you were injured in a demolition accident, our New York City construction accident attorneys can get you the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed and determine whether a third party may be liable for your pain and suffering. Simply contact us online or call our office directly at (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.