A Comprehensive Guide to Risk Management for Sydney Office Strip-Out and Demolition

Every workplace comes with risks and hazards. The risk of incident and injury is almost everpresent, and there are working environments that carry more risk than others. Here at Sydney City Rubbish, we regularly conduct office strip-out and demolition operations. Due to the nature of this work and the equipment used, there is often a higher risk of accidents occurring than say in a retail workspace.

Being vigilant about health and safety is absolutely critical in every Sydney office strip-out and demolition project. It must be the primary concern, above all else. This guide will provide some insight into the right health and safety practices on a de-fit project, how to identify and minimise risk and hazard, and the right protective equipment to be used.

Is there a set process for dealing with risks and hazards?

Every site will vary in terms of the risks and hazards present and the scope or type of work to be done. There is, however, a basic framework that can be applied to essentially all project sites. This study by Manchester Business School identified this basic model of the risk management process:

– Identify and classify the risk
– Analyse the risk
– Respond to the risk
– Monitor the risk

Identify risks and hazards that may be present

The first step in creating a safe workplace is identifying the risks and associated hazards that may be present. This process must be thorough and comprehensive so that no risks are missed. If there are risk factors that are not identified, the likelihood of incident and injury will be much greater.

There are a few ways to ensure a thorough risk identification process takes place. Before taking the steps to identify the risks on-site though, you will need to know what you’re looking for.

These are just some of the common hazards in office strip-outs and construction projects:

Trip and fall injuries – some of the most common injuries occur because of tripping on items such as leads, tools, materials, and holes. In the UK, these are the most common workplace injuries each year.

Slip and fall injuries – similarly to tripping, slipping incidents are common on building and demolition sites, particularly when the site is wet or liquids have been spilled.

Lifting injuries – muscle strain and broken bones can occur as a result of lifting heavy items in an incorrect manner.

Fall from height – falls from height involve any kind of incident where a worker falls from a walkway, scaffolding, roof, or raised platform.

Lacerations from tools and sharp objects – there are many tools and objects that can cause serious injury on a building site. Saws, drills, hand tools, and sharp and broken materials all present a serious risk.

Falling objects – tools, materials, and other objects can cause serious injury when they fall from height.

Poisoning from chemicals – many demolition projects can involve chemicals that pose a serious risk to workers.

Inhalation of dust – dust is an ever-present risk factor in the construction industry, particularly where silica is concerned.

Asbestos – asbestos is a well-known, highly toxic compound. While contact with asbestos may not cause any immediate health concerns, it can cause cancer in the long term.

Electrocutionelectrocution remains one of the leading causes of death on building sites, though much preventative action can be taken.

Hearing damage – prolonged exposure to loud noises on-site, such as to power tools and repeated impact noise can cause permanent hearing loss.

Collision with vehicles and machinery – building sites can be bustling with activity, with vehicles making deliveries and machinery operating. Therefore, collision injuries do occur, such as when employees stray into dangerous zones and are not visible.

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) – a condition that can occur as a result of using machinery and tools which cause heavy vibration, such as jackhammers.

This is clearly not an exhaustive list, as there are very many different risk factors on a building site. These do, however, cover the main incidents that can occur.

How to identify hazards

Once you understand the kinds of risks that are common on building sites, you can begin to identify them. The best ways to do this are by:

– Site walk-throughs, where you can thoroughly check each area and identify hazards such as loose materials, cables, spills, and more.
– Analysing plans to identify any high-risk areas.
– Discuss risks with property owners, as they may have further insight into certain parts of the building that may present risk.
– Open lines of communication with workers throughout the project to ensure that everyone reports any new risk factors that may appear.

Once a hazard is identified, the relevant person must be informed and the hazard recorded. Then, analysis and response may take place.

Analyse the risk

After you have identified risks and hazards, analysis should take place.

– Who is at risk?
– What kind of incident may take place?
– What is causing the risk?
– How can we neutralise the hazard?
– Other factors, which may be exacerbating the risk.

Understanding who is at risk will enable the right communication, training, and warnings to take place. Knowing the kind of incident that this hazard can cause will help ensure that the right measures can be taken to prevent that accident. Moreover, analysing the cause of the risk means you can more ably remove whatever is creating the risk (if possible).

Other factors may be present that make a hazard worse. For instance, a poorly lit job site can increase the chances of your workers tripping over and injuring themselves. Similarly, a road that is in poor condition may make it more difficult to operate machinery and vehicles, also increasing the chances of collision.

Each risk and hazard can be graded based on the likelihood of the incident occurring and the seriousness of the potential injury. They can be graded as low, medium, and high, so that you can prioritise action where required.

Respond to the risks identified

Once you’ve identified the potential risks on your building site, you’ll need to take steps to eliminate, reduce or manage the hazards. Every hazard is different and requires a different response. Some cannot be completely eliminated, so they must be carefully managed.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

A water puddle

A puddle of water on the building site is a slip and fall risk. However, this is easy to respond to. Simply mop up the water and the risk will have been entirely eliminated.

Loose cables and materials

Cables and leads are a very common hazard on strip-out and demolition sites, causing many trip and fall incidents around the country. Power leads will always be required for certain tools and equipment, so there will be some kind of risk present. However, when these leads are correctly stored and kept away from walkways, the risk will be greatly reduced.

A large hole

You can’t simply remove a large hole from your building or demolition site. Therefore, this risk must be managed throughout the project. Steps may include alerting all workers, creating a barrier, and ensuring the hole is completely visible at all times.

Continue to manage the risks

Health and safety must remain your key focus throughout the entire project. That means that once you have responded to the identified risks, you must remain vigilant until your Sydney office strip-out or demolition project is complete.

Risks can rise and fall throughout the project, as new hazards crop up. This is where consistent walk-throughs and open communication between all workers, are absolutely essential. Toolbox meetings each morning can help keep an open dialogue and ensure that staff are bringing up any concerns they may have.

Other things to consider

There are a few other things to consider when maintaining a safe office strip-out and demolition project in Sydney.

Site cleaning is a must

Site cleaning can ensure that your workers are able to operate safely at all times, without fear of tripping on loose materials. It also means that hazards can be removed quickly, creating safer walkways and paths for vehicles. Ensure your site is clean at all times by hiring a professional Sydney rubbish removal company to handle your construction waste.

Personal protective equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary on every project and will ensure your workers have a solid last line of defence against workplace hazards. PPE includes:

– Eye protection such as glasses and goggles
– Gloves
– Boots, steel-capped
– Durable clothing
– Head protection
– Sun protection where required
– Earmuffs
– High visibility clothing
– Masks/respiratory protection.

Hire a professional Sydney office strip-out company

The job is always safer when the professionals are taking care of it. At Sydney City Rubbish we understand the ins and outs of office strip-out and demolition in Sydney better than anyone. We’ll complete your de-fit in the safest way possible, while applying our sustainable practices at every turn.

To discuss your office strip-out, get in touch with Sydney City Rubbish today.

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