Demolition toolbox talk

A simple, 5 minute outline of what to cover in a toolbox talk on Demolition.

The potential risk of serious injury during demolition projects is high. People at risk include employees, contractors, and the public. Demolition workers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to work safely. Therefore, demolition work should be planned carefully so that all risks can be managed appropriately.

Why run a Demolition Toolbox Talk?

  • Prevent unnecessary injury from demolition hazards by improving awareness and training
  • Assist with understanding of legislative aspects and standards
  • Fewer injuries mean higher productivity

Hazard identification

Common hazards associated with demolition works include:

  • Dust
  • Noise
  • Fire
  • Falling/flying debris
  • Fall from heights
  • Collapse of structure
  • Hazardous substances
  • Heavy machinery movements

Before starting a job, a site should be inspected for:

  • Asbestos-containing materials and other toxic substances, e.g. lead
  • Polychlorinated chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in lighting or electrical fittings
  • Persistent organic pollutants (POP) on site 
  • Flammable substances
  • Power lines and other electric cables
  • Tensioned concrete structures that might collapse when tensioned wires are cut 
  • Gas supply lines and other compressed gas sources
  • Biological hazards, such as sewage, needles, and animal/ bird faeces 
  • Underground tanks, pits, and basements
  • Unsafe/compromised structures
  • Traffic conditions


Asbestos (New Zealand information) 

If a structure was constructed pre-2000, or if asbestos has been identified or is likely to be identified, the Asbestos Regulations 2016 require any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials be removed before demolition begins (unless some demolition is required for access).

Note: most countries will have relevant legislation managing the asbestos on demolition sites.

Hierarchy of controls:

To manage hazards, apply the following hierarchy of controls:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Isolation e.g., fencing off demolition sites and maintaining clear collapse zones.
  • Engineering e.g., use of long reach excavators
  • Administration e.g., induction, training, safety and demolition plans
  • PPE e.g., safety footwear, hard hats

Record keeping and training

Maintain good record keeping, such as pre-demolition checklists, hazard registers, and task analysis/job-safety analysis forms. Make sure staff have the correct licenses and training to use specific plant and tools.


  • Safety glasses, safety helmets, gloves, appropriate footwear
  • Respiratory protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Protective clothing 

The PCBU has a duty to train staff in the correct: selection, use, fitting, inspection, maintenance, and storage of PPE. 

Respirators should be fit-tested.

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure that there is a demolition plan in place.
  • Identify all hazards on site and make sure appropriate controls are in place.
  • Asbestos must be removed.
  • Make sure workers have the required training, including for PPE. 

Sales Inquiries Contact:

  • AU  02 5104 6116
  • NZ  09 886 3309

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