Demolition operatives, also known as demolition workers, demolish and (more commonly) dismantle buildings and structures varying from single storey blocks, tall chimneys and bridges to large industrial units such as decommissioned power stations. Demolition can de done in one of three ways: manually; with heavy plant machinery; and by use of explosives. Often, a combination of all three are employed.
Demolition operatives' work involves site preparation, stripping out floors, roofs, fittings and removing re-usable materials such as timber and bricks. Some metalwork can be recovered using industrial crane-mounted magnets, and concrete slabs may be put through a crusher to produce aggregate for roadworks. Operatives are also trained in the safe removal of hazardous material such as asbestos and lead.
As an operative, there are various levels of responsibility:
Demolition Operative 1 (labourers) are involved in erecting and dismantling screens, safety rails, dustsheets and fences around sites. They also prepare materials for re-use.
Demolition Operative 2 (Mattockman/woman) may strip out fittings, remove doors and windows, prepare and erect roof protection, demolish roof structures and carry out demolition by hand.
Demolition Operative 3 (Topman/woman) carry out the above tasks and cut steel at heights, strip fragile roof coverings and instruct others in safe demolition practices.
A variety of hand and power tools are used to carry out jobs including pneumatic hammer drills and oxyacetylene cutting equipment. Operatives also employ plant machinery such as 360-degree excavators with demolition attachments.
Health and safety plays a major role in operatives' work and strict regulations must be adhered to.
Demolition operatives work a basic 39-hour week, but weekend work and overtime are often required.
The work is conducted in dirty, dusty and noisy conditions, and in all weathers. Protective clothing is always worn, and in some cases breathing equipment might be required.
Travel and periods away from home is common, so a driving licence is often useful.
To work as a demolition operative you should:
Specialist firms of demolition contractors are the main employers, with a few demolition operatives working for general building and civil engineering companies. Experienced demolition operatives can progress to supervisory and site management positions.
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