High Reach Demolition

How a high reach demolition contractor overcomes challenges with structures at height

Our focus on the value of working with an experienced high reach demolition contractor this month comes off the back of a recent post covering the challenges of highrise demolition, which naturally falls into this category. But highrise office and residential buildings aren’t the only structures at height that require a high reach demolition approach.

Effective for projects in the commercial, industrial, and mining sectors, high reach demolition comes with challenges and risks. But if you’re a project owner, how do you know what to look for in a high reach demolition contractor? How can you approach your project and feel confident in a successful outcome?

high reach demolition contractor

In fact, even project owners with significant development or facility closure experience, can find themselves technically challenged when facing a project without the skills and experience of a high reach demolition contractor. Overlooking just one element of what’s required to achieve safe and effective project completion can lead to safety incidents, schedule overruns, and budget blowouts.

In this article we cover key questions:

  • Is the demolition method right for the project?
  • What are the risk factors?
  • What equipment should be used?
  • Are the right people in the right seats?

Is the demolition method right for the project?

Just because your project involves deconstruction of a structure at height, doesn’t mean a high reach approach is right. Depending on the structure, multiple demolition methods may be used with deconstruction, induced collapse, top down, and traditional demolition methods among them. A high reach demolition contractor will determine the correct method, balancing safety, efficiency, and budget. 

To ensure a safe and efficient project, a single project may involve a combination of several methods, including innovative approaches to address challenges, such as cantilever scaffolding to protect neighbouring buildings and strategies for operating machinery in narrow spaces. Detailed planning will always play a significant role in determining the optimal methodology for a high reach demolition project, but changes to approach should not be ruled out when challenges emerge on the job.

For example, WorkSafe has responsibility for ensuring compliance with work health and safety laws in Queensland, and there is a WorkSafe equivalent in every state and territory. Ongoing training and retraining to keep credentials current is a must for all workers, along with detailed site specific planning in advance of a project commencing. This can be backed up by daily toolbox talks on relevant health and safety topics like hazard identification, proper use of personal protective equipment, and hazards of working with equipment.

What are the risk factors?

All demolition presents risks, however risks associated with high reach demolition are unique. Safety concerns are ever present. Working at heights can be dangerous. So too is the discovery of unexpected hazardous materials, like asbestos, lead, chemicals, and heavy metals. Depending on the structure’s age, other factors can impact structural integrity. Structural design changes may have been made in a building. Some of these may not have been approved and could have affected structural strength and stability, which may not be evident until demolition commences. 

The strength of construction materials may also be unknown, and even the proposed demolition method is likely to carry certain risks with it. Noise and vibration constraints, as well as significant traffic management impacts on the local community are all very real considerations because highrise structures are typically found in built up, densely populated city locations. 

Keep in mind too that a small project footprint doesn’t guarantee a small demolition. High reach structures, say inner city office blocks, are often built right up against one another leaving limited room for trucks, machinery, and equipment to move with ease in, out of, and around a site. Our work on the 200 Turbot Street project is an excellent example of how risks with this type of environment need to be managed.

What equipment should be used? 

You could safely assume that high reach excavators would form part of the equipment used on a high reach demolition project. But while these machines deliver versatility through the use of multiple attachments that allow work to be completed at height and on the ground, other plant and equipment, such as smaller excavators, cranes, and skid steer loaders all contribute to the effective delivery of the project. In all instances, equipment must be fit for purpose, and meet the number one priority of keeping workers safe.

Are the right people in the right seats?

Experience counts when it comes to high reach demolition, and after a study of operators you will learn that the most experienced among them started on small machines and worked their way up to high reach demolition. The entire team, from project managers to site supervisors, and of course, operators and labourers must have a deep understanding of the most suitable method for the project. They must also be able to adjust the approach as the project dictates, for example, when unexpected structural challenges arise or hazardous materials like asbestos or lead are discovered unexpectedly. 

DEMEX is a high reach demolition contractor, licenced to undertake demolition of all structures at height, including highrise apartments, manufacturing facilities, mine infrastructure, such as processing plants and conveyor systems. Our approach encompasses safety, innovation, and technical expertise. For more information on how efficient, safe, and cost effective ways to complete your high reach demolition project, contact us directly on info@demex.com.au