Explosives, Wrecking Balls and You

Does the idea of working with explosives intrigue you? Have you always been better at taking things apart than putting them back together? Perhaps you ought to consider a career in demolition. Be warned, however, that far from being a wild, reckless ride, it requires careful planning, patience and heaps of paperwork.


Most of the training is on the job with traineeships and apprenticeships but there are also demolition diploma courses that you’ll be required to complete, especially if you want to climb the ranks and be trusted with implosions and the wrecking ball. You’ll also need some completed courses to get your demolition licence.

General tasks and responsibilities

Depending on how high up the ladder you are, you might have to get involved in the tender process, which involves research, planning and presentations. It’s usually reserved for demolition managers.

The paperwork, at the outset, is monumental. According to David Strzelecki, a demolition project manager cited in an article for The Guardian, paperwork includes method statements, risk assessments, health and safety plans and site waste management plans (among a host of other plans and assessments). Then there are the licence applications for scaffolding, road closures and cranes.

demolition job

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lydiashiningbrightly/3216173108/

The preparation begins when the paperwork has been completed, plans approved and permits granted. It involves thorough site assessments. If explosives are going to be used, suitable detonation sites have to be identified. The building needs to be stripped of all wiring, glass and fittings, including insulation, doors and drywalls (Wikipedia). The purpose of stripping the building is to remove the risk of shrapnel flying into curious crowds. In today’s environmentally aware and sustainable age, these materials are also recycled wherever possible.

While the building is being stripped, demolition managers can work on things like establishing a safety distance – a cordon to keep gawkers at bay – and can manage other admin tasks like ensuring all the utilities are disconnected. They can also perfect the demolition plan and go over and over the site to ensure that all safety regulations are being followed, that the perfect placements for explosives have been found and that everything is in order for the big day. Contingency measures will also have to be devised in case things don’t go according to plan.

After the building goes down, demolition managers have to ensure that the rubble is properly cleared and that waste is properly disposed of.

Explosives or wrecking ball

This depends on the size of the building. Buildings that are two or three storeys tall don’t need explosives; high-reach excavators and wrecking balls will do. Unfortunately for those who have always dreamed of wielding a wrecking ball, they are going out of fashion because excavators are considered safer and more efficient.

Taller buildings are imploded using explosives. Only very experienced demolition experts are trusted with explosives because they need to be positioned with pinpoint accuracy otherwise the building won’t fall in on itself and will, instead, fall on the buildings to either side. The explosives also need to be detonated in perfect sequence and with perfect timing. According to Wikipedia, explosives are only used when all other methods are impossible, simply because they are so dangerous.

Still, it’s an exciting career and one with growing opportunities as redevelopment projects become the norm.

This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Skilled Migrant Jobs, one of the best job search sites in Australia for hopeful immigrants.

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