May 5, 2014 in the Old Bethlehem Steel Plant became the latest building to collapse during demolition. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the collapse of this historic building and reported that 9 workers were injured when the roof came down. According to CBS Baltimore “MCM Management Corp. is handling the demolition and tells “they’re investigating the incident and are focused on the recovery of the nine workers.”
In 2012 the steel mill, which once employed tens of thousands of Baltimoreans, shut down. Ever since, buildings on the site are being torn down. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists the following procedures before and during demolition.
· Preparatory Operations – Before the start of every demolition job, the demolition contractor should take a number of steps to safeguard the health and safety of workers at the job site. These preparatory operations involve the overall planning of the demolition job, including the methods to be used to bring the structure down, the equipment necessary to do the job, and the measures to be taken to perform the work safely. Planning for a demolition job is as important as actually doing the work. Therefore all planning work should be performed by a competent person experienced in all phases of the demolition work to be performed.
· Engineering Survey – Prior to starting all demolition operations, OSHA Standard 1926.850(a) requires that an engineering survey of the structure must be conducted by a competent person. The purpose of this survey is to determine the condition of the framing, floors, and walls so that measures can be taken, if necessary, to prevent the premature collapse of any portion of the structure. When indicated as advisable, any adjacent structure(s) or improvements should also be similarly checked. The demolition contractor must maintain a written copy of this survey. Photographing existing damage in neighboring structures is also advisable.
· Utility Location – One of the most important elements of the pre-job planning is the location of all utility services. All electric, gas, water, steam, sewer, and other services lines should be shut off, capped, or otherwise controlled, at or outside the building before demolition work is started. In each case, any utility company which is involved should be notified in advance, and its approval or services, if necessary, shall be obtained.
· Medical Services and First Aid – Prior to starting work, provisions should be made for prompt medical attention in case of serious injury. The nearest hospital, infirmary, clinic, or physician shall be located as part of the engineering survey. The job supervisor should be provided with instructions for the most direct route to these facilities. Proper equipment for prompt transportation of an injured worker, as well as a communication system to contact any necessary ambulance service, must be available at the job site. The telephone numbers of the hospitals, physicians, or ambulances shall be conspicuously posted.
· Police and Fire Contact – The telephone numbers of the local police, ambulance, and fire departments should be available at each job site. This information can prove useful to the job supervisor in the event of any traffic problems, such as the movement of equipment to the job, uncontrolled fires, or other police/fire matters. The police number may also be used to report any vandalism, unlawful entry to the job site, or accidents requiring police assistance.
· Fire Prevention and Protection – A "fire plan" should be set up prior to beginning a demolition job. This plan should outline the assignments of key personnel in the event of a fire and provide an evacuation plan for workers on the site.
More information regarding Building Demolition can be found on OSHA’s website at https://www.osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/demolit.html