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Chimney demolition safe or no?

When it was decided to demolish the old chimney on the side of the old Institut Henrijean laboratory in Spa, Belgium, the challenge was how to carry it out when it was in the town’s historic centre surrounded by listed buildings.
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The flatbed skip and mini excavator

There was really no choice but to bring it down brick by brick, so planners eventually decided to use a mini excavator equipped with hydraulic demolition jaws working from a flatbed skip suspended from a mobile crane.

Now many crane people will look at this and immediately condemn it without due consideration of the alternatives, but it certainly does not look good. The operator is wearing a harness which is attached directly to the crane hook, and one has to assume that the chain set and crane capacity have been specified with a huge additional margin of safety.
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The old Chimney on the old Institut Henrijean laboratory

So what are the alternatives? Perhaps a mastclimber with circular profiled platform and individuals working from the platform?

So one for our Death Wish series? It certainly looks like one, given the way the skip is seen to move around in the video clip that has been circulating on social media over the past month or so. Perhaps you might let us know what you think though.

Have a safe weekend – a long one in the UK.

The demolition is part of a three year, €25 million renovation and restoration project of the original building that was constructed 150 years ago. The project includes a large underground car park a four star hotel and restoration of large fountain and grand entrance steps.


They are breaking couple of (OSHA) rules here:
- You cannot ride a load, period.
- You cannot tie off to the crane hook if the hook is loaded.
- They are also loading a suspended container in the background which is often not allowed by crane manufacturers due to the shock loading and unknown load that may be dropped into it.

You can always use boom lifts or extended arm excavator with a hammer. You could always build a system scaffold and work like professionals.

Sep 1, 2020

Appalling, this approach would see you get a prohibition notice in this country with the Company having a good chance of being prosecuted. Aside from the many working at height issues around that site the operator in the skip is being put at an unacceptable risk. He is wearing a harness attached to the crane because of the reasonably foreseeable risk of a failure in either the chains or the lifting points. If this was to happen there is also a foreseeable risk of the excavator fouling on his legs as it falls bearing the whole of the weight on him. Why not use a remotely operated excavator if you have to do this?

Aug 31, 2020

Would reluctantly give this the thumbs up as long as I was not the guy in the skip.The mini should be fixed to the centre of the skip to keep the centre of gravity under the crane hook because if it slid the machine plus operator are over the side and his fall arrest may not protect him.

Aug 28, 2020
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