Death During Demolition

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#487 by Safety Toolbox Talk Webmaster
Death During Demolition was created by Safety Toolbox Talk Webmaster

One of the most dangerous times in any workers career is when they are working to demolish something. During this activity you are in the process of dismantling some structure, machine or object and just as when it was installed, you have to ensure each piece is put in . . . or in this case . . . removed in the correct order.

Demolition is dangerous as you don’t always know what piece is supporting what. Frankly sometimes it is better to just destroy something in place rather than trying to disassemble it. This recent article from The Florida Times-Union demonstrates that distinctly:

Worker dies in industrial accident on the Southside
By Teresa Stepzinski The Florida Times-Union – Sun, Apr 24, 2016

Jacksonville police said a worker died after falling and hitting his head Sunday when a wall of heavy-duty industrial shelving collapsed in an industrial accident on the Southside.

The victim, about 50 years old, and a co-worker were demolishing the large wooden structure inside a vacant warehouse unit about 10 a.m. at 4314 St. Augustine Road. The victim was renovating the space for a new business, said Sgt. Craig Waldrup of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. “Somehow, the structure gave way and the victim who was on top of it, fell about eight feet and hit his head on the concrete floor,” Waldrup said. The other worker wasn’t injured. The victim died at UF Health Jacksonville, Waldrup said. Authorities withheld his name pending notification of next of kin. The name of the other worker also wasn't released.

Waldrup said those two were the only ones inside the building when the accident happened. The men had been working on the weekends getting the unit cleaned out, he said. Neighbors said the unit has been vacant at least a month. It previously housed a fencing company, they said.

So what can we learn? Evidently in this instance the victim was actually on top of what was being taken down according to the article and fell 8 feet. We can’t be sure what they were doing on the structure but certainly it was to access a part to continue in the dismantling of it.

When doing such a task, take the time evaluate how the part will be disassembled. Just as when it was put together, ensure you remove the pieces in the correct order. If you can’t determine that . . . it is always best to utilize destructive means to bring the structure down. Salvaging isn’t worth a life.

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