Demolition & Dismantling: Prevention & Control Measures – Part 2

As one of the top demolition contractors Nottingham has to offer, ProDEM are always dedicated to making sure that all demolition projects are carried out safely and efficiently.

Last month we looked at risk assessment and the issues to consider before work begins. We continue our 3 part article about demolition and dismantling: prevention and control measures with part 2, to bring to light all the hazardous agents that you can find around any demolition site.

We will take a look at what they are, where they can be found, their dangers, and how to mitigate their threat.

Site Decommissioning

Hazardous agents

Depending on the structure being demolished, workers may be exposed to a number of dangerous agents present throughout different areas of the site. Your risk assessment should identify the agents present, giving you time to plan for safe disposal, or how to prep the working area properly so that workers don’t suffer harm from exposure.



Asbestos was widely used as a construction material in the 20th century, mainly as insulation in pipes, ceiling tiles, boilers and valves, but is now banned from use with government plans looking towards complete removal in the near future. Asbestos comes in a variety of forms, and those widely used for commercial construction are the most harmful.

Once asbestos has been identified during the site surveys, a professional asbestos removal firm will need to be employed. Failure to remove asbestos safely – or not recognising its presence – will expose workers to harmful fibres which can cause serious harm in the form of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

ProDEM offer safe asbestos removal, always performed to the safest guidelines.


Chemicals used during demolition

The work required for demolition may involve the use of hazardous chemicals like lubricants, gases and solvents. The planning prior to the project should make every effort to find safer alternatives so workers are less exposed to dangerous chemicals from the beginning. If this isn’t possible, the workers handling these chemicals should be sufficiently trained and briefed on the possible dangers, and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn.



Lead can be an incredibly toxic substance and will cause serious harm to workers when inhaled or ingested. In construction, lead has been commonly used in paint, pipes, plumbing and roof flashings.

Lead poisoning can be prolonged and dangerous, so proper PPE should be provided to all workers and measures should be taken to provide workers with sufficient cleaning facilities after working in areas where lead is present.



Mould can develop easily in many buildings, especially in older structures, and the spores created by mould can have numerous effects on workers including: asthma, eczema, allergic reactions and other respiratory problems.

Mould develops in moist, warm and dark conditions and will spread quickly if left unattended. If mould is identified, the area should be thoroughly cleaned and whole body PPE – including respiratory equipment to prevent inhalation of spores – should be worn.



Like asbestos, PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) saw widespread use in the 1960’s but is rarely manufactured today due to health concerns. There may be PCBs present in many older buildings that were built or renovated during that time. PCBs are mainly found in electrical transformers and capacitors due to their stability and low flammability.

PCBs can cause cancer and a number of respiratory and immune system problems. The site survey should test for the presence of PCBs and equipment found to contain them should only be handled and disposed of by qualified personnel.


Pigeon and rat droppings

These can accumulate widely over disused or un-maintained structures. They can cause serious negative health issues for workers so proper PPE should be worn.


Previously stored chemicals

The presence of stored or unattended chemicals  – such as fuels and solvents – will depend on how the building had been used before demolition was required. The site survey and risk assessment should take this into account and make special consideration for the presence of old drums or pipes used for storage.

Leakage may have occurred, so special care should be taken so as to prevent exposure to dangerous liquids, and to limit risk of fire or explosions.


Synthetic mineral fibres

Much like asbestos, man made fibres like glasswool and rockwool – commonly used as thermal and acoustic insulation in the 20th century – can cause significant harm to construction workers. While once thought to be carcinogenic, these fibres are found to cause severe irritation to skin and eyes, as well as damaging the throat and respiratory tract.

Some older fibres, however, are still classed as carcinogenic and, if identified around the site, need specialised attention to ensure safe removal and safe working conditions. Proper PPE should also be worn regardless of the type of mineral fibre, to help limit exposure.


Widespread dust

Throughout any demolition project, vast amounts of dust are likely to be generated. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious respiratory damage, or even the development of cancer. Where dust is expected, the area should be properly prepped for containment. Water will help contain much of the dust, so mopping the area beforehand or utilising a sprinkler system will help. Proper PPE should be worn and care should be taken so as not to raise more dust than necessary.

Be sure to check back next month where we finish up by looking at health and safety risks associated with the equipment and machinery used around the worksite.

Read part 3 here.

Missed part 1? Read part 1 here.

We offer full Demolition services, contact us today for more information.

Call us on 0800 998 1957

Email us at

ProDEM are proud to be one of the best demolition contractors Nottingham has to offerWe take every precaution to ensure that any demolition project we undertake, large or small, is performed to the strictest standards of safety and efficiency.

Our highly trained, experienced team work professionally at all times so if you need safeeffective and affordable demolition work carried out, get in touch with the friendly team at ProDEM today.

As one of the top demolition contractors Nottingham has to offer, ProDEM know that one of the biggest continued challenges facing demolition projects is that of the prevention and control of potential dangers.

Demolition is a dangerous construction and, as such, needs strict attention payed at all times to ensure a safe working environment.

Need professional help? Contact the experts at ProDEM Demolition today on 0800 998 1957



We’re taking a look at risk assessment and the things you need to take into account before any work takes place to ensure a safe working environment for all involved.

Demolition Worker on Site

A systematic approach from the outset of the project

Prepping for any demolition project should be taken incredibly seriously, and a systematic approach to risk prevention is vital from the start. Risk assessment should be taken out on the site to identify any potential hazards, who will be exposed to those hazards and to what extent.

A systematic approach means thinking about every aspect of the site and taking steps to limit the occurrence of a number of different risks.

Get a dedicated Health and Safety Co-ordinator

Having a dedicated health and safety co-ordinator is crucial. They will be able to guide the project with professional care to make it as safe and robust as possible before the work begins. They will help with all necessary training for workers, and be a good point of contact for all concerns that come up through initial site surveys.

Site Communication

Communication across the site is always important, so think about effective communication systems so workers can contact and inform each other, site officials, and anyone in charge of health and safety.

Rise Assessment

Risk assessment will mean collecting and analysing reports on the structure and the surrounding site. From this, most of the information pertaining to potential risks and hazards should be brought to light. After all the information is collected, inform your workers and give them a chance to have their own input, so they can influence their own working conditions before work begins.

Locate and disconnect systems connected to the site

Many sites will still have basic supplies still connected and running into and through the site. Gas, water and electricity are the main ones, but there may also be chemicals or fuel transported through buried pipes, sewer and drainage systems and overhead power or communication lines which all need to be taken into account.

All of these systems can pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the project, and should be identified and disconnected before work begins. If total disconnection is not possible, you should take measures to clearly mark all pipes, cables or power lines so that workers can spot and work around them at all times during the project.

The structure itself

One of the greatest dangers facing any demolition project is the potential for structural collapse. The initial risk assessment should identify all weak points of the structure, what work needs to be done in and around the structure, and how they impact each other. Measures should be taken to ensure that work won’t bring about a premature, uncontrolled collapse.

Use disposal chutes

Be aware of the weight placed at any time on floors above ground level – machinery, tools, debris and the workers themselves are all a factor. If necessary, allow for the implementation of extra structural supports around the structure. Disposal chutes for deconstructed materials will help relieve pressure and should be planned for ahead of time.

Traffic on site

Where possible, pedestrians and vehicles should be kept separate. Workers should wear correct PPE to maximise visibility while on foot, a rigid, thoroughly planned traffic management system should be implemented and cabs of vehicles should be reinforced – in case of falling debris.

Falls, drops and slips

Workers can be at risk of falls or collisions with falling objects. When planning the project, try to limit the amount of work taking place above ground level. Bring in machinery to allow workers access to higher floors while they themselves remain safely on the ground.

Signs and safety railings

If work above ground level is necessary, take every precaution to limit risks of falls. Strong safety railings, clear signage and safe and easy navigation between floors should be installed prior to work beginning. Your risk assessment should identify weak or fragile floors, and temporary platforms may need to be constructed to remove contact with potentially dangerous surfaces.

Personal precautions

Also take time to make workers aware of personal precautions. Hard hats should always be worn, and heavy tools and machinery should be properly operated by competent and trained individuals.

Debris and rubble can create hazardous passages and should be quickly removed and cleared away to prevent trips or slips in areas expecting heavy foot traffic.

Be sure to check back next month where we cover the hazardous agents you might find around the site, and what should be done to mitigate their threat.

Read part 2 here.

We offer full Demolition services, contact us today for more information.

Call us on 0800 998 1957

Email us at

ProDEM are proud to be one of the best demolition contractors Nottingham has to offer. We take every precaution to ensure that any demolition project we undertake, large or small, is performed to the strictest standards of safety and efficiency.

Our highly trained, experienced team work professionally at all times so if you need safe, effective and affordable demolition work carried out, get in touch with the friendly team at ProDEM today.