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Building Assessment, Restoration, and Demolition
Building Demolition
List of Activity Sheets
    Photo courtesy of Cal/OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
Activity Description
  • This activity sheet is for response and recovery workers and supervisors who will be conducting assessments and demolishing buildings. For some operations or situations (e.g., entry into confined spaces, heavy equipment use) other activity sheets also apply; see related activity sheets below.
  • Hurricanes can cause massive structural damage to buildings in their paths, resulting in unsalvageable properties.
  • Large-scale demolition is performed using heavy equipment; however, many related tasks and small-scale demolition jobs are performed manually or using hand-held equipment.
  • Demolition after floods may involve work with wet debris, which will be heavier than if dry. Wet materials are also subject to heavy mold growth, which is not likely when materials are dry. Additionally, materials might be contaminated with hazardous substances that contaminated floodwaters.
  • Response and recovery workers conducting this operation may be employed by Federal, State, local, and private employers. Review How to Use This Matrix in the introduction for a discussion of how this information may apply to different workers.
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About the Activity Sheet

This activity sheet does not provide an in-depth analysis of OSHA standards and regulations and cannot address all hazards. It does not increase or diminish any OSHA requirement or employer obligation under those requirements. It is intended as a guide and quick reference for employers and response and recovery workers. The Matrix captures major activities involved in hurricane response and recovery, highlights many of the hazards associated with them, and recommends beneficial work practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other exposure control methods. Employers must evaluate the specific hazards associated with the job/operation at the site where the work is being performed.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work provides a general overview of particular topics related to current OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or the equivalent State Plan standards and requirements. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA/State Plan administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements. Employers should modify their procedures as appropriate when additional, relevant information becomes available.

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General Recommendations

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices. See general recommendations document.

Personal Protective Equipment. The general PPE is recommended for all response/recovery tasks/operations; only the additional PPE that may be needed for a specific hazard is noted below.

General PPE includes:

  • Hard hat for overhead impact or electrical hazards
  • Eye protection with side shields
  • Gloves chosen for job hazards expected (e.g., heavy-duty leather work gloves for handling debris with sharp edges and/or chemical protective gloves appropriate for chemicals potentially contacted)
  • ANSI-approved protective footwear
  • Respiratory protection as necessary—N, R, or P95, filtering facepieces may be used for nuisance dusts (e.g., dried mud, dirt and silt) and mold (except mold remediation). Filters with a charcoal layer may be used for odors.
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Recommendations Specific to Hazards Associated with Building Demolition

STRUCTURAL INSTABILITIES

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Conduct an engineering survey of the framing, floors, and walls of the structure and any adjacent structures that might be affected; maintain written survey results
  • Shore/brace walls and floors as needed to maintain safe work areas during demolition activities
  • Have a competent person continually inspect work area to detect hazards resulting from weakened or deteriorated floors, or walls, or loosened material. A competent person is able to recognize existing and predictable hazardous conditions and has the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate the hazardous condition
  • Do not allow falling debris/stored materials or heavy equipment to exceed the safe carrying capacity of the floor
  • Conduct demolition work from the topmost floors down; do not cut/remove load-supporting members until upper or supported loads have been removed
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UNSECURED HAZARDS IN THE WORK AREA

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.Remove or secure objects (glass, structural members) that may fall while workers work under them
  • Use debris netting, sidewalk sheds, canopies, or catch platforms to reduce hazards from falling objects
  • Verify the location of all other utility lines; ensure lines have been shut-off, capped, or otherwise controlled outside the building before beginning work. Notify utility companies before controlling their utility lines
  • Assess the presence, contents, and condition of tanks and equipment that might contain hazardous chemicals, gases, or flammable materials. If the condition of tanks or equipment is suspect, avoid disturbing them until after the assessment is done and a plan of action determined
  • Purge lines, tanks, and equipment containing hazardous chemicals, gases, or flammable materials. Use air monitoring equipment such as a combustible gas indicator, toxic gas monitor, or oxygen monitor to determine if any hazardous conditions remain. When necessary, provide additional controls to protect response and recovery workers (e.g., forced ventilation, respiratory protection)
  • Provide and use safe walkways to reach any point without having to walk on exposed beams; walkways should be at least 18 inches wide and formed by using 2-inch thick wood, with stringers installed as needed for support
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DROPPING CONSTRUCTION DEBRIS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Enclose material chutes at greater than a 45 degree angle; chute openings should be 48 inches or less with gates that are closed when the chute is not in use; provide 42-inch high guardrails where debris is dumped manually; where debris is dumped using mechanical equipment or wheel barrows, provide 4-inch wide by 6-inch high toeboards/bumpers
  • Barricade and mark all debris-dropping areas; ensure debris is not removed until debris-handling ceases above
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IMPROPER LADDER OR SCAFFOLD USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Inspect ladders for cracked, broken, or defective parts before use
  • Do not exceed the load rating of ladders or scaffolds—remember that load ratings include people, tools, and equipment
  • Set up ladders and scaffolds on stable surfaces
  • Set extension or straight ladders at a 75 degree angle from the ground (1/4 foot back for every foot of rise) and provide 3 feet above an upper landing surface to ease climbing onto/descending from height
  • Use non-conductive ladders (e.g., fiberglass) and exercise extreme caution when working near power lines
  • Secure ladders that can be displaced by work activities; consider barricades at the base to keep traffic away
  • Have a competent person inspect scaffolds before use
  • Ensure that the scaffold is plumb, and braced and guyed to prevent tipping, swaying, and displacement
  • Ensure that the scaffold is built on base plates and mud sills, or other firm foundations. Footings should be able to support the scaffold without settling or moving. Do not use unstable objects to support scaffolds
  • Fully plank each scaffold on all working levels. For wood planking, use wood graded for the intended load
  • Provide guardrails or fall protection systems on platforms 10 feet or higher

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Fall arrest systems on platforms without guardrails 10 feet or higher
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GENERAL HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATIONS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection—see Noise hazard
  • When working from an aerial lift, use a body harness that is properly attached (or body belt for tethering or restraint use only) for fall protection
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WORK ZONE SAFETY

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 compliant high visibility safety apparel
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FALLS FROM HEIGHTS OR THROUGH OPENINGS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Limit access/set up controlled access zones
  • Use fall protection systems: guardrails, safety nets, or fall arrest systems
  • Cover or guard holes and openings as soon as they are created. Covers must support two times the weight (body, equipment, materials) that may be imposed

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Personal fall arrest system including harnesses, lanyards, lifelines, connectors, anchorages, and anchor points (as needed)
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CONTACT WITH LIVE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND OTHER UTILITIES (E.G., GAS, WATER)

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures. Assume that electrical lines are energized until proven otherwise. Lines and other conductors may become reenergized without warning as utilities are evaluated and restored after a disaster
  • Inspect the work area for downed conductors and do not go near, drive over, or otherwise come in contact with them
  • Downed electrical conductors can energize other objects, including fences, water pipes, bushes, trees, and telephone/CATV/fiber optic cables
  • Unless deenergized and visibly grounded, maintain proper distance from overhead electrical power lines (at least 10 feet) and/or provide insulating barriers
  • Do not approach any gas leaks; if a gas leak is detected, secure spark-producing devices (e.g., engines, tools, electronic and communications equipment)
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POWER AND HAND TOOL USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or double insulated power tools, or implement an assured equipment grounding program
  • Inspect power tool condition (including any cords) and verify operation of safety features before use
  • Do not use equipment that is defective, such as equipment with inoperable safety switches, missing guards, frayed/cut cords, etc.
  • Ground power tools properly
  • Avoid standing in wet areas when using portable power tools

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection—see Noise hazard
  • Hand protection for cut- and abrasion-control and vibration dampening
  • Eye protection appropriate to the impact hazard
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GENERATOR USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless a qualified electrician has installed a transfer switch for the generator. If the structure's electrical system is not isolated, it may energize the utility's wiring system for great distances and create a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area
  • Always plug electrical equipment directly into the generator using the manufacturer's supplied cords or grounded (3-pronged) extension cords that are rated for the total anticipated load
  • Do not overload a generator; it can overheat and create a fire hazard
  • Ground and bond generators according to the manufacturer's recommendations; ensure that any manufacturer-required connections are secure before using the generator
  • Keep the generator dry; protect with a canopy if needed; do not use it in wet or rainy conditions
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, and odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of the generator's fuel. CO is harmful when breathed because it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen
  • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages and basements; opening windows and doors may not prevent CO from building up in those spaces. Do not use a generator outdoors near doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to enter
  • Ensure that a generator has 3 to 4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation and cooling. Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

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SILICA, MOLD, NUISANCE DUST, DRIED MUD, OR SILT

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Stay upwind of or away from dust-generating activities, and in particular those involving crystalline silica-containing materials like concrete, brick, tile, drywall, mortar, sand, or stone. When inhaled, the fine crystalline silica particles contained in the dust can become lodged deep in the lung, which can lead to silicosis and other respiratory illnesses
  • Use water spray or mist to suppress dust generation, especially during operations that may create a lot of dust, such as cutting or sawing silica-containing materials, jack hammering, impact drilling, using heavy equipment, and demolishing structures
  • Avoid using compressed air for cleaning surfaces
  • Sample worker exposures to silica during dust-generating activities
  • Limit contact or disturbance of surfaces containing substantial visible mold growth
  • See Mold Remediation activity sheet

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • At a minimum, use respirators with N, R, or P95 filters for work with crystalline silica-containing materials (e.g., concrete, brick, tile, mortar). The use of N, R, or P100 filters may provide additional protection. Higher levels of respiratory protection may be needed for some operations (e.g., cutting concrete, sandblasting, mixing concrete)
  • N, R, or P95 respirators may be used for nuisance dusts (e.g., dried mud, dirt, or silt) and mold (except mold remediation). Filters with a charcoal layer may be used for odors
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ASBESTOS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Consider the potential for Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM). Structures built before 1980 are more likely to contain ACM
  • If available, review the building operations and maintenance plan and ACM survey to determine the locations and types of ACM in building
  • Thermal system insulation (formed or spray-on) is the ACM of greatest concern for response and recovery worker exposure
  • Other materials that may contain asbestos include: vinyl floor tile, home siding & shingles, transite (including cement piping), flame retardant materials (e.g., gloves, curtains) and roof flashing
  • If building is suspected or known to contain asbestos-containing thermal system insulation, ensure a qualified individual, such as a competent person, a person certified as an asbestos inspector by the State, or a safety and health professional, inspects the building and evaluates the condition of the material prior to any remediation or cleanup of ACM or PACM by other response and recovery workers
  • If located, do not disturb material and isolate area until material can be visually inspected for integrity
  • Before demolishing a structure, remove or otherwise address ACM in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations
  • If removal is necessary to complete work, ACM must be removed by workers who are trained to perform the class of abatement work they will conduct, using the methods identified in 29 CFR 1926.1101. ACM must be discarded in a landfill that has a permit to accept ACM

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Based on the initial exposure assessment, select a respirator and protective clothing for visual inspection, sampling, and subsequent abatement work
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LEAD

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Identify building materials such as painted surfaces and pipes that may contain lead. Test materials as necessary
  • Based on test results, perform an worker exposure assessment of the planned activities, that includes air monitoring and/or objective data, to determine if lead dust or fume may be generated at or above OSHA's action level (0.03 milligrams of lead per cubic meter of air (mg/m3))
  • If so, then the activities must be done in compliance with 29 CFR 1926.62. This would include:
    • Establishing a written lead compliance program
    • Having a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the jobsite, materials, and equipment
    • Sampling worker exposures
    • Using special equipment or methods to decrease lead-dust generation such as local exhaust ventilation, dust collection systems (on power tools), and good housekeeping practices
    • Providing respiratory protection and protective work clothing
    • Providing medical exams and blood tests before work begins and every six months, as necessary
    • Ensuring that workers wash their hands and face before eating, drinking, and smoking
    • Setting up and ensuring use of change areas and eating facilities that are separate from the work area
    • Limiting the wearing of lead-contaminated clothing in eating areas or away from the job site
  • Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.During certain tasks, workers must be treated as if they are exposed above the OSHA PEL (0.05 mg/m3) until an exposure assessment, which includes air sampling, is performed. For each of these tasks, OSHA has identified an exposure level on which to base decisions until an exposure assessment is complete. If planned activities include any of the tasks below, you must provide the following items while the exposure assessment is being performed: respiratory protection and PPE identified in 29 CFR 1926.62(d)(2), change areas, hand washing facilities, training, and biological monitoring. These tasks include:
    • Where lead coatings or paint are present: manual demolition, scraping, and sanding; heat gun applications; power tool cleaning (with or without dust collection systems); cleanup activities where dry expandable abrasives are used; rivet busting; abrasive blasting (including enclosure movement or removal); welding; cutting; and torch burning
    • Spray painting with lead paint
    • Using lead containing mortar
    • Lead burning

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Based on anticipated exposure, select respirator and protective clothing as required in 29 CFR 1926.62 for initial sampling and subsequent work where lead dust or fumes may be generated
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WELDING, CUTTING, AND BURNING

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Remove flammable and combustible materials from the area
  • Do not perform "hot work" such as welding, cutting, or burning in areas where flammable, combustible, corrosive, or toxic substances are being used, stored, or may otherwise be present
  • Maintain a fire watch during all hot work until material has cooled
  • Ensure fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents are available in the immediate area
  • Provide natural, exhaust, or forced ventilation to control exposure to the metal fumes and other contaminants being generated (e.g., generator exhaust)
  • Ensure that pipes and other vessels are purged of hazardous materials
  • Identify building materials that will be welded, cut, or burned and that may contain lead, such as painted surfaces and pipes. Test materials and provide exposure controls identified in 29 CFR 1926.62 as necessary; see Lead hazard

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Gloves and protective clothing for the activity being performed
  • At a minimum, filtered lenses and face-protection as appropriate for the activity being performed
  • Respiratory protection based on anticipated exposure to metal fumes, including lead
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NOISE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Place generators, compressors, and other noisy equipment at a distance or behind a barrier when possible

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hearing protection when working around potential noise sources and when noise levels exceed 90 dBA. A useful "rule of thumb"—if you cannot hold a conversation in a normal speaking voice with a person who is standing at arms length (approximately 3 feet), the noise level may exceed 90 dBA
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CONFINED SPACES

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Confined spaces have limited means of entry or exit, are large enough to bodily enter, and may contain physical (e.g., mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic energy; engulfment hazards; inwardly converging surfaces) or atmospheric hazards (e.g., atmospheres that are oxygen-deficient or oxygen-enriched, contain or may contain flammable gas, vapor or mist, airborne combustible dust, toxic substances, or any other atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to life or health). Examples include storage tanks, process vessels, bins, boilers, vaults, ventilation or exhaust ducts, sewers, tunnels, pipelines, and pits more than 4 feet in depth
  • Hurricane-related events might introduce hazards or potential hazards into confined spaces. For example, a space might have a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere due to the presence of decomposing organic matter, to the use of hazardous chemicals in the space, or to the performance of operations in the space, such as welding, cutting, or burning, that may create a hazardous atmosphere. Additional precautions must be taken to make the space safe for entry
  • Evaluate the need for entry (i.e., placing any body part into the space); prevent unauthorized entries
  • If entry is required, see Entry into Confined Spaces activity sheet
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CHEMICAL AND MATERIAL STORAGE AND USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

  • Segregate and store incompatible chemicals separately. For example, store solvents and oxidizers (e.g., peroxides) separately, and acids and caustics separately
  • Secure compressed gas cylinders and ensure that they are stored properly when not in use (regulators off and valve caps on when not in use; separate oxygen and fuel gas by 20 feet or using a non-combustible barrier (5 ft high, fire-resistant rating of at least ½ hour))
  • Store chemicals in containers approved and designed for chemical storage and mark all storage locations
  • Store and handle hazardous materials in areas with natural or forced ventilation; do not store or handle in low-lying areas
  • Isolate, secure and identify storage areas
  • Prohibit smoking near storage areas
  • Keep ignition sources at least 25 feet away from storage areas
  • Ensure that fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents are available in the immediate area
  • Bond and ground containers before dispensing flammable liquids. [29 CFR 1926.152(e)(2)]

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Gloves made of material that will protect user from chemicals handled
  • Face shield or goggles with indirect venting. If a face shield is selected, eye protection must be worn under the face shield
  • Coveralls or apron resistant to chemicals being handled
  • Disposable boot covers resistant to the chemicals being handled
  • A respirator and cartridges specific for chemical, as necessary
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DISCOVERY OF UNKNOWN CHEMICALS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices

If hazardous chemical containers are found or leaking materials are detected:

  • Do not use spark-producing devices (e.g., engines, tools, electronic, and communications equipment) in the immediate area
  • Take self-protective measures (i.e., move to a safe distance upwind) and contact hazardous material response personnel for evaluation/removal before continuing work in the area

Additional Personal Protective Equipment

  • Evaluate the need to revise protective clothing, respirator, and glove selection
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OTHER POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Select any of the following potential hazards that can be associated with this activity in order to access relevant recommendations in the general recommendations document:

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Additional Medical Needs
  • Follow medical guidance and precautions outlined in the general recommendations document
  • An asbestos-specific medical surveillance program, as outlined in 29 CFR 1926.1101(m), is required for workers working with asbestos for 30 or more days per year (1) who may be exposed at or above the permissible exposure limit or (2) who are likely to conduct Class I, II, or III asbestos abatement activities
  • Workers who may be exposed above the action level for lead for a single day must be enrolled in an initial medical surveillance program. Additionally, workers who are exposed to lead levels at or above the action level for more than 30 days in any consecutive 12 months must be enrolled in a medical surveillance program, as outlined in 29 CFR 1926.62(j)
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Additional Training Needs

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Related Activity Sheets

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Other Resources and References

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