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Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
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Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
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Demolition Accidents on Construction Sites [2024 Guide]

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Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An In-Depth Overview of Demolition Accidents

On this page, we’ll discuss demolition accidents on construction sites, dangers and risks of demolition work, how construction accident lawyers can help injured demolition workers seek compensation, and much more.

Dangers of Demolition Work: Hazardous Materials, Falling Objects, and More

Every demolition project faces the same hazards as that of a construction project.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection was the most cited workplace violation in 2022.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction accidents accounted for 1,056 fatalities in the same year.

A majority of these fatalities are attributed to falls, slips, and trips.

Demolition projects also deal with these risks as they’re part of the entirety of these numbers.

The tragic reality demolition workers face every day can’t be overstated.

demolition accidents; demolition injuries; demolition on construction sites; demolition accident lawyer

Workers have the right to seek financial compensation when an accident occurs on the job site.

The construction accident legal team at TorHoerman Law can help you through the legal process to seek the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation, or use our chatbot for an instant case review.

Table of Contents

Risks Faced by Demolition Workers

Construction and demolition workers are at heightened risk for workplace-related accidents because of the nature of their work.

The construction industry is among the leading industries with the most workplace fatalities.

Hazards demolition workers face on their jobs include:

  • Exposure to hazardous materials
  • Falling objects
  • Equipment failure
  • Structural collapses

Exposure To Hazardous Materials

During demolition activities, workers may encounter various hazardous substances that threaten their health and safety.

Asbestos, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other hazardous construction materials are commonly found in older establishments and building materials.

Some substances and the risks they pose can include:

  • Asbestos: Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral commonly used in construction materials because of its fire resistance, strength, and insulating properties.
    • Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause severe respiratory diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These diseases often have lengthy latency periods, meaning signs may remain dormant until years after exposure.
  • Lead: Lead was historically used in paint, plumbing, and other building materials for its durability and corrosion resistance.
    • Exposure to small amounts of lead-based paint can cause neurological damage, especially in children, leading to developmental delays, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Adults can also suffer from lead poisoning, resulting in high blood pressure, kidney damage, and reproductive issues.
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals used in various building materials, including insulation, sealants, caulking, and electrical equipment, due to their chemical stability and flame-retardant properties.
    • PCB exposure has been linked to adverse health effects, including skin conditions, liver damage, reproductive issues, and increased risk of certain cancers.

Demolition workers may also encounter other hazardous chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, mercury, and various solvents used in construction materials, adhesives, and coatings.

Exposure to these chemicals can cause various health effects, including respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, central nervous system disorders, and organ damage.

These chemicals may be present in paints, coatings, adhesives, insulation materials, sealants, and other building products used in older structures.

Falling Objects

Demolition sites are notorious for being raucous.

Numerous moving parts are involved in a demolition process—tractors wheeling in and out to destroy a massive structure and workers running on the ground to do the same.

Debris falling from heights can cause serious injuries or fatalities if it strikes workers or bystanders below.

The force of falling materials can result in blunt force trauma, lacerations, fractures, or head injuries.

Factors such as structural instability, weather conditions, or unintentional disturbances can also contribute to the unpredictability of falling debris.

Accidents involving falling debris may result in legal liabilities, fines, or penalties for employers or contractors responsible for safety violations.

Failure to comply with regulations and standards regarding debris containment and safety measures can have serious legal consequences.

Equipment Failure

Equipment failure can also cause catastrophic outcomes in a demolition job.

Demolition workers rely on aggressive tools for various demolition methods.

Demolition equipment such as excavators, cranes, wrecking balls, jackhammers, and explosives are powerful tools that can cause severe injuries, fatalities, and property damage if not operated correctly.

Various factors, such as natural wear-and-tear or frayed wiring, can cause these equipment failures.

Inadequate training, lack of experience, or negligence are also prominent causes of equipment-related accidents.

Errors in equipment setup, control manipulation, or safety procedures can increase the risk of accidents.

Structural Collapses

Floor and roof collapses pose significant dangers during the demolition process, especially when the structural integrity of the building is not assessed correctly and maintained.

These collapses can result in severe injuries or fatalities for workers and bystanders, as well as extensive property damage.

The condition of a building’s structural members may deteriorate over time due to age, weathering, or previous damage.

Without a thorough assessment of structural integrity, predicting when and where collapses may occur during demolition can be challenging.

Collapse of floors or roofs can trap or crush workers inside or near the structure being demolished.

The weight of collapsing materials can cause blunt force trauma, fractures, or fatalities.

Collapses can also trigger secondary hazards such as gas leaks, the release of asbestos dust, and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

These additional hazards can exacerbate the risk of injuries or pose further dangers to workers and emergency responders.

Injuries Commonly Associated With Demolition Accidents

Demolition works breed numerous threats that can lead to severe injuries, long-term disabilities, or death.

Accident victims can sustain a range of catastrophic and debilitating injuries in a demolition accident.

Some of the most common injuries related to demolition accidents include:

  • Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
  • Strains, sprains, and contusions
  • Entrapment and crushing injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Accidental death

Cuts, Bruises, and Lacerations

Minor injuries such as cuts, bruises, and lacerations are common in demolition accidents, often resulting from contact with sharp objects, flying debris, or abrasive surfaces.

Workers may sustain these injuries while handling demolition tools or working near collapsing structures.

Treating these injuries is relatively easy.

Delayed treatment or wound cleaning could make people susceptible to serious infections.

Strains, Sprains, and Contusions

Musculoskeletal injuries such as strains, sprains, and contusions can occur due to overexertion, repetitive motion, or awkward postures during demolition activities.

Heavy lifting, manual labor, and prolonged physical exertion can strain muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leading to pain, swelling, and reduced mobility.

Like the injuries above, proper and prompt treatment could prevent these injuries from escalating.

Entrapment and Crushing Injuries

Entrapment and crushing injuries are significant risks during demolition, particularly when workers become trapped under collapsed structures or machinery.

These injuries can result in severe trauma, internal injuries, or limb amputations if not promptly rescued and treated.

Faulty equipment or lack of proper training to operate machinery are the leading causes of these injuries.

Broken Bones

The force of falling debris, structural collapses, or equipment accidents can cause broken bones or fractures in demolition workers.

Common injury sites include the arms, legs, ribs, and spine.

Fractures may range from minor hairline cracks to complex breaks requiring surgical intervention and rehabilitation.

A traumatic blow to the back or a fracture to the spine could result in permanent paralysis, which could be untreatable.

Respiratory Illnesses

Exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead, silica dust, or noxious fumes during demolition operations can lead to various respiratory illnesses, such as asbestosis, silicosis, lead poisoning, or chemical pneumonitis.

Inhalation of airborne particles or toxic substances can cause inflammation, scarring, or damage to the lungs and respiratory system.

These injuries are often permanent and challenging to treat.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur in demolition accidents involving falls from heights, head impacts, or blunt force trauma.

TBIs range in severity from mild concussions to severe brain damage and can result in cognitive impairments, memory loss, personality changes, or permanent disability.

If someone on a construction site has received a heavy blow to the head, it’s critical not to miss a minute and call 911 immediately to minimize its potential effects.

Accidental Death

Demolition accidents can result in fatalities due to the severity of injuries sustained.

Accidental deaths may occur from falls, structural collapses, equipment malfunctions, or exposure to hazardous materials.

These incidents can have devastating effects on families, coworkers, and the wider community.

Employers must prioritize safety measures, provide adequate training, and implement strict protocols to mitigate these risks and ensure the well-being of workers involved in demolition activities.

Accident Prevention Strategies in Demolition Works

While demolition works present grave threats and potentially fatal injuries, there are ways to mitigate and avert these risks.

Some techniques for accident prevention include:

  • Safety planning
  • Worker training
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Regular equipment maintenance
  • Adherence to safety protocols

Safety Planning

Employers and stakeholders must conduct a thorough site assessment, engineering survey, and structural inspection before initiating demolition activities.

These steps will help identify potential plans to alleviate these risks and ensure the safety of every worker.

Proper planning has always been the key to safe demolition operations.

Develop a detailed demolition plan that includes engineering controls, hazard assessments, emergency procedures, and evacuation routes.

It also helps to establish exclusion zones, barricades, and signage to restrict access to hazardous areas and ensure the safety of workers and bystanders.

Collaborating with structural engineers, safety professionals, and regulatory authorities can further improve your current safety plan.

Worker Training

A prepared worker is a safe worker. Host or provide comprehensive worker safety training on safe demolition practices, hazard recognition, emergency response procedures, and the proper use of equipment and tools.

Ensure workers are familiar with relevant regulations, codes, and standards governing demolition activities and understand their responsibilities for maintaining a safe work environment.

You can also offer a regular refresher course to ensure this crucial information stays in their minds.

For a more comprehensive approach, you can also provide additional safety training, such as fire prevention, CPR, and emergency response.

This approach will ensure that every worker understands what they can do during an unprecedented accident.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Supply workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) tailored to the specific hazards present on the demolition site.

These protective supplies should include hard hats, safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, respirators, and high-visibility clothing.

You should also ensure that every worker has a properly fitted PPE.

This protective equipment must be maintained and worn correctly by all workers at all times during demolition activities.

To ensure workers adhere to this rule, you can conduct a regular and random inspection at the job site.

Regular Equipment Maintenance

Equipment failure is a common cause of accidents in construction or demolition job sites.

Implementing a proactive and regular equipment maintenance routine ensures that demolition equipment is in optimal working condition and free from defects or malfunctions.

This protocol is best implemented by scheduling regular inspections, servicing, and repairing demolition machinery, tools, and attachments according to manufacturer recommendations and industry best practices.

This approach ensures that a machine is not used past its prime.

Train equipment operators and maintenance personnel to recognize signs of wear, damage, or malfunction and report any issues immediately for prompt resolution.

Adherence to Safety Protocols

Establish and enforce strict adherence to safety precautions, procedures, and guidelines for all demolition activities.

These protocols must cover equipment operation, material handling, and waste disposal.

Assign dedicated safety officers or supervisors to oversee demolition operations, monitor compliance with safety protocols, and intervene to address unsafe behaviors or conditions.

You should also encourage everyone to communicate openly with workers, supervisors, and safety personnel to report safety concerns, near misses, or incidents and collaborate on solutions to mitigate risks effectively.

Understanding Workers' Compensation in Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents are a touchy legal subject that many employers try to avoid.

It’s critical that you understand your rights in this situation.

When dealing with a demolition accident resulting in injuries, workers may pursue compensation through workers’ compensation claims.

Depending on the facts of the case and the jurisdiction of the accident, workers can also file a personal injury lawsuit against their employers.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that supplies benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

It typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, disability benefits, and vocational rehabilitation services.

In most states, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning injured workers are entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the accident.

Certain exceptions exist, such as cases involving intentional misconduct or intoxication.

Workers’ compensation benefits are usually available promptly after an injury, without the need to prove negligence on the employer’s part.

These benefits may be limited compared to the damages a victim could recover in a personal injury lawsuit.

Can Workers File a Third-Party Claim?

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers may have the right to file a third-party claim against parties other than their employer who may have contributed to the accident.

These parties could include equipment manufacturers, subcontractors, property owners, or other negligent parties.

Third-party claims allow injured workers to pursue compensation beyond the benefits available through workers’ compensation.

This added compensation could include damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and punitive damages in cases of gross negligence or misconduct.

Pursuing a third-party claim requires establishing negligence or liability on the part of the responsible party, which may involve gathering evidence, conducting investigations, and navigating complex legal proceedings.

Consulting with an experienced attorney specializing in construction accidents can help you navigate the complexities of the legal process.

An experienced attorney can also help you secure the necessary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

How an Experienced Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help

An experienced workplace accident attorney can provide invaluable assistance to injured workers with their vast knowledge and broad legal experience.

A knowledgeable attorney can help gather evidence, assess liability, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for justice for the injured worker.

In cases where a third-party claim is pursued, an attorney can handle all aspects of the litigation process, including filing the lawsuit, conducting discovery, presenting evidence, and representing the injured worker in court.

By working with an attorney specializing in construction accidents, injured workers can increase their chances of obtaining fair and just compensation for their injuries, ensuring their rights are protected and their financial needs are addressed.

TorHoerman Law: Talk to Our Workplace Accident Attorneys Today

Demolition work involves a myriad of disastrous and dangerous tasks that could result in severe workplace accidents.

When these incidents occur, the injured worker is entitled to seek justice for their injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a demolition accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to TorHoerman Law today.

Our team of experienced workplace accident attorneys can thoroughly investigate your case, determine liability, and pursue maximum compensation.

Contact us now or use our chatbot for a free and instant case review.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are common risks associated with demolition work?

    Common risks in demolition work involve falling debris, the collapse of weakened or deteriorated structures, exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos or lead-based paint, and accidents involving heavy equipment.

    Ensuring demolition safety requires rigorous adherence to occupational safety and health regulations, including the use of personal protective equipment and careful planning to protect workers from bodily injury.

  • How can construction accident lawyers assist injured demolition workers?

    Construction accident lawyers can help injured demolition workers by providing legal representation to seek workers’ compensation or file lawsuits against responsible parties.

    They assist in gathering evidence, such as engineering surveys and witness testimonies, to prove negligence and secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from demolition accidents.

  • What are the main health hazards for demolition workers?

    The main health hazards for demolition workers include exposure to toxic chemicals, respiratory hazards from excessive dust, and physical risks from falling objects or structural collapses.

    Protective measures like respiratory protection, proper disposal of hazardous substances, and adherence to safety precautions are crucial to mitigate these risks.

  • What measures can be taken to prevent accidents during demolition projects?

    To prevent accidents during demolition projects, it is critical to conduct detailed engineering surveys to detect hazards resulting from the structure’s design or previous unapproved modifications.

    Implementing strict safety measures, such as securing loose materials, using appropriate demolition methods, and ensuring that all workers wear necessary protective gear, are essential steps in preventing unplanned collapses and other accidents.

  • How does OSHA regulation impact safety in demolition projects?

    OSHA regulations significantly impact safety in demolition projects by setting mandatory guidelines for fall protection, hazardous material handling, and demolition procedures.

    Compliance with these regulations is enforced through inspections and penalties to ensure that demolition sites maintain high safety standards.

    These rules require demolition operations to have safety plans that address potential risks like hazardous materials and structural integrity to protect workers and prevent demolition accidents.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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