Manual demolition may not involve explosives, but it carries particular hazards that often lead to injuries. To keep employees safe, the New York Industrial Code has specific provisions to protect construction workers—and those who fail to follow them could be guilty of negligence.

Protection During Hand Demolition Under the NY Industrial Code

NY 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 Downtown Building Demolition 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. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12 § 23-3.3 requires the following when performing demolition by hand:

  • Deconstruction of walls and partitions

All walls and partitions must be disassembled systematically. Masonry must not be loosened or permitted to fall in a way that endangers the structural stability of any floor or support. Walls, chimneys, and other structures must not be left unguarded to fall, collapse, or be weakened by wind or vibration.

  • Methods of operation

Debris, bricks, and any other materials disassembled by hand may only be removed using compliant chutes, buckets and hoists, or approved openings in the structure's floors.

  • Safe footing

When performing manual demolition of exterior walls, all workers must be provided with sound flooring, compliant scaffolds, or another secure footing. Employers may not permit any worker to perform demolition while standing on top of a wall or elevated structure of a small area.

  • Wall openings

Windows and other openings within 20 feet of any opening used to remove debris from floors above must be solidly boarded up during demolition operations to prevent the accidental passage of debris.

  • Access to floors

Safe access to and egress from every building or other structure must be provided at all times in demolition.

  • Protection from falling debris

Any floor subject to falling debris or materials from above must be boarded up or fenced off by a substantial safety railing to prevent workers from passing through the area.

  • Demolition of structural steel

Steel construction must be demolished column by column and floor by floor. Each structural member must be under no stress other than its weight and must be chained or lashed to prevent uncontrolled swinging or dropping.

  • Demolition of floor arches

Before deconstruction of a floor arch begins, all debris and materials must be removed from the arch and other adjacent floor areas. Employers must ensure that planks of at least two inches thick by nine inches in cross-section are provided for workers to stand on to provide safe supports should the arches between the beams collapse.

  • Storage

Storage areas must not interfere with access to any stairway or passageway used to ingress or egress. Any required materials must be safely piled in locations that do not interfere with operations nor present any hazard to anyone frequenting the demolition site. Suitable barricades must surround stored materials to prevent sliding or rebounding into work areas. No materials may be stored on catch platforms, scaffold platforms, floors, or stairways of the structure being demolished.

  • Catch platform required

A compliant catch platform must be constructed to protect workers from falling debris during the demolition of any exterior masonry wall or a roof more than 75 feet above the ground, except where a chimney is being demolished or where a scaffold provides equivalent protection.

Let Us Help You After a Demolition Accident on a Construction Site

If you or someone you love suffered a demolition injury, the New York construction injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer could help you get the payment you deserve. 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.