Downwell Demolition Contractors – Top tips for ensuring site safety

Downwell Demolition is one of the leading NFDC accredited Demolition Contractors in London and the South Estate. Since its incorporation in 2003, Downwell has invested in training and equipment to ensure demolition project we undertake is carried out safely.

Some of the measures that we use to maintain safety at all times

Downwell Demolition Contractors full-time SHEQ manager Shane Fountain is a dedicated professional who is passionate about Health and Safety and since his appointment in December 2021, he has built upon the good foundations laid by our previous manager Del Wyer.

Shane carries out diligent health and safety checks on all our sites on a weekly basis and demands that any non-conformances are are addressed quickly and signed off.

He is supported by our Health and Safety consultants Prime Safety.

When setting up a demolition site, multiple considerations must be made before any of our workforce step foot on the site.

These are some of the guidelines that we always work to.

1. Asbestos awareness 

R&D Asbestos Surveys must be carried out before any demolition work starts. Any licensed or non-licensed asbestos found must be removed safely and promptly by an approved contractor. Our group company Inner City Environmental provides this service for Downwell Demolition Contractors.

This applies to all buildings built before 2000.

All our workforce undergo Asbestos Awareness training to ensure that any hidden asbestos detected once demolition begins is identified. In this event, we will stop work and arrange to test. If the asbestos is licensed, this will impact the programme because of the 14-day notification period.

2. Training

As an NFDC accredited contractor, we follow strict health and safety training guidelines. Every member of our site teams is trained to undertake the specific tasks. In addition, all the workforce have an individual training record that is monitored, and any refresher training is carried out before a qualification expires.

A training needs analysis will be made for each project and any additional training required is by industry accredited training providers.

3. Personal Protective Equipment

Ensuring our workforce are equipped with compliant PPE is very important.

A minimum 3 part PPE is worn by all operatives in non working zones- this is

• Hard Hat

• Branded Hi-Vis Vests and Jacket

• Steel Toe Capped Boots

Additionally, subject to the area and work activity, they will wear Safety Glasses, Gloves, Ear defenders, and PP3 dust masks are worn in operational zones.

Other specialist works such as Hot Cutting require welding masks, fire-proof overalls, etc

Face fitting tests have to be carried out for all operatives requiring masks.

4. Dust, Noise, and Vibration Monitoring

When planning a demolition project, noise, dust and vibration are always significant concerns expressed by all project stakeholders.

Continuous exposure to loud noise can damage a person’s hearing. Additionally, noise can create a safety risk by making it difficult for workers to communicate effectively or stop them from hearing warning signs.

Our operatives’ vibrating tools can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), and therefore, vibration must be managed.

We use 24/7 noise, vibration, and dust monitors that record the data which we provide with our health and safety file. These monitors send out warnings to the supervisors and contracts managers if levels are exceeded allowing use to take corrective action.

Non-noisy work times are also programmed in to allow minimal impact to the stakeholders.

5. Dust prevention

To control Silica dust we use high-pressure water sprays that spray fine particles into the air to dampen dust. This method also contains groundwater levels building up. These are independent units of varying sizes. Our high-reach machines have sprays fitted to their arms.

Protective scaffolding covered in monarflex is also an integral part of dust prevention.

Our operatives wear PP3 masks at all times when dust is in the air.

6. A tidy site

An organised site is a safe site. Downwell Demolition Contractors always ensure that a site is set up correctly and kept tidy. This means that machinery, plant, equipment, and debris are stored and cleared away in specified areas daily. Pedestrian walkways are clearly segregated and signage is displayed. Recycling bins for general welfare waste are used.

7. Welfare facilities

In line with CDM Regulations 2015, suitable welfare facilities are available to the workforce where they can take breaks. Generally, we use Oasis solar-powered units. These contain an office, canteen area, drying room, and toilet. An operative is assigned to make sure these are kept clean at all times and waste removed.

A copy of our various policies and men’s and women’s health advice posters will be displayed in these units.

Designated smoking areas are made for those wishing to smoke or vape.

8. Service disconnections

Before any demolition work can commence all services need to be disconnected, and certificates provided. The site will also be CAT scanned before work starts.

9. Managing Traffic Movement

To avoid putting our workforce at risk by vehicles turning, slewing, or reversing, traffic management systems are essential on site.. When possible, vision aids and zero tail swing machines must be used.

Traffic Management Plans are formulated during the planning phase of a project. These are updated as the works progress.

The segregation of vehicles and pedestrians is actioned giving clear and unhindered pedestrian walkways and vehicle access to all required areas.

A site speed limit will be enforced and a gateman will assist with flow and control of traffic.

One-way systems are put in place to minimise the requirement for reversing. Reversing cameras are fitted to vehicles and plants to eradicate operatives’ need to be close to vehicles. Traffic movements (including deliveries) are timed to avoid rush hour traffic. As a result, no queuing of construction traffic will occur.

10. Stakeholder engagement

Before we start any project we spend a lot of time establishing close contact with those living and working in the area. We listen to any concerns that they may have and in many cases it helps us with preparing our Method Statements and Construction Health and Safety Plans.

It gives us the opportunity to advise them of  important health and safety information that will affect them such as Traffic Management and Site Security.

11. Method Statements and Communication to the workforce

Site inductions and toolbox talks are very important as they ensure that all our workforce are fully aware of the work method and local environment. The workforce are required to sign that they have read and understood the RAMS before they are permitted on site.

Our ethos at Downwell is that every member of the workforce is responsible for Health and Safety. The management have an open door policy and welcome any suggestions for improvement.

Site Safety is of paramount importance to Downwell

100 years of demolition experience

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