What is a demolition risk assessment ?

A Demolition Risk Assessment is an essential part of the planning stage of any Health and Safety Management System. Risk assessment methods are used to decide on priorities and to set objectives for eliminating hazards and significantly reducing risks. Wherever possible, risks should be eliminated through the selection and design of facilities, equipment and processes. If risks cannot be eliminated, they should be minimised by the use of physical controls or, as a last resort, through systems of work and personal protective equipment. The control of risks is essential to secure and maintain a healthy and safe workplace, which complies with the relevant requirements.   

Legal aspects of demolition risk assessment

The general duties of their employers in section 2 of the Health & Safety act 1974 imply the need for risk assessment. This duty was also extended to section 3 of the Act to anybody else affected by activities of the employer- contractors, visitors, customers or members of the public. However,  the management of Heath and Safety at work regulations are much more specific concerning the need for risk assessments. The  following requirements are laid down in those Regulations.

  • The risk assessment shall be suitable and sufficient and cover both employees and no-employees affected by the employer’s undertaking (e.g. contractors, members of the public, students, patients, customers. Every self-employed person shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which they or those affected by the undertaking may be exposed.
  • Any risk assessment shall be reviewed if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or if a significant change has taken place  
  • Where there are five or more employees, the significant findings of the assessment shall be recorded and any specially at risk group of employees identified ( This does not mean that employers with four or less employees need not undertake a demolition risk assessment. 

The term Suitable and sufficient is important as it defines the limits to the risk assessment process. A suitable and sufficient demolition risk assessment should contain:

  • Identify the significant risks
  • Identify and prioritise the measures required to comply with any relevant statutory provisions:
  • Remain appropriate to the nature of the demolition works and valid over a reasonable period of time
  • Identify the risks arising from or in connection with the demolition works. The level of detail should be proportionate to the risk    

Findings of the inspection of the demolition project

The significant findings that should be recorded include a detailed statement of the hazards and risks, the preventative, protective or control measures in place and any further measures required to reduce the risks present. 

When assessing risks under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, reference to other regulations may be applicable even if there is no specific requirement for a demolition risk assessment in those Regulations. Apart from the duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to undertake a Health and Safety assessment of the risks to any person, employees, contractors, or members of the public, who may be affected by the demolition activities of the contractor, the following Regulations require a specific demolition risk assessment to be created:

  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 
  • Health and Safety ( Display Screen Equipment Regulations 
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 
  • Confined Spaces Regulations
  • Working at Height Regulations 
  • Regulatory Reform ( Fire Safety) Order ( not under HSW Act
  • Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

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