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Understanding more about the demolition process

For real estate developers, the only thing perhaps more exciting than breaking ground on a new project is witnessing the demolition of the structures standing in the way of realizing their dream.

It's important for real estate developers and anyone else involved in demolition to understand, however, that the process consists of much more than just swinging a wrecking ball and gathering up the pieces. Indeed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration refers to demolition as "construction in reverse" and has set forth some very instructive guidelines for those engaged in this process to consider.

According to OSHA, demolition consists of more than just wrecking any building, structure or part of either, but also destroying, razing and dismantling.

As to why the agency classifies this type of work as being so especially dangerous, it points to the fact that not only are many of the hazards associated with a traditional construction project present in demolition work, but so too are a large number of unknown variables.

Some examples of these unknown variables include:

  • The design of the structure may be different due to changes undertaken during construction or modifications made thereafter.
  • There may be dangerous materials requiring special handling hidden within the structure, such as silica, lead, asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals.
  • The strengths or weaknesses of the materials used to construct the building or structure may be unknown.
  • The default demolition methods used may be ill suited to the project.

As alarming as all this may sound, OSHA does indicate that when demolition is undertaken with the necessary planning, personal protective equipment, training and compliance with agency standards, its hazards can be either controlled or eliminated altogether.

We'll continue examining this topic in future posts. In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have question or concerns related to a construction law matter.  

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