Demolition: What you need to know

Demolition is not just the knocking down of buildings or structures, it also includes smaller maintenance and renovation work such as the dismantling of parts of structures (e.g. one part of a steel-framed building) or the removal of walls.


When planning your works you need to first identify the hazards and manage the risks:

  • Protection of the public and workers – Fencing and barriers are in place to prevent unauthorised access or controlled access and egress by a licensed person
  • Overhead and underground utilities – Ensuring all services have been identified and are isolated or disconnected
  • Asbestos – Asbestos has been identified, managed and removed prior to demo. We will discuss this more in our next blog
  • Dust – Use of water to dampen down the area
  • Fire and explosives – All hazardous materials or substances have been removed from the area of work before commencing demolition
  • Weather – Plan for bad weather and control harmful or hazardous run off 
  • Working at heights – Where possible work from the ground, ensure you have the right fall protection and working platforms to eliminate or minimise the risk of falling from one level to another
  • Identify the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) & respiratory protective equipment (RPE) needed for handling and disposing of hazardous building materials


When demolition is involved there is always the potential for the collapse of the structures. Ensure structural / supporting elements are identified before demolition (you may need to seek structural engineers help identifying these, and in what order to take them down).


  • Identify what work is carried out internally by people and what is / can be carried out externally by machinery to ensure safety.
  • Plan to manage falling objects and unplanned structure collapse
  • Know the proximity of building or structure being demolished to other buildings or structures
  • Walls should never be left free-standing that could be blown down by unexpected winds.
  • If any wall is to be toppled by pulling, there should be a surrounding clear space of 1.5 x wall height
  • Ensure temporary support props are in place to provide additional support where needed


Most demolition is classed as high-risk construction work (HRCW) so make sure you complete a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) via the HazardCo App 


These should be tailored to the task at hand and regularly updated as changes occur.