Demo tear-down troubles spark scaffolding rethink

Aaron Morby 7 months ago
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A leading demolition boss is calling for a radical rethink on the use of scaffolding to protect from flying debris on tear-down jobs after a spate of collapses.

Modular debris protection frame invented as a safer alternative to scaffolding
Modular debris protection frame invented as a safer alternative to scaffolding

The managing director of East Midlands specialist AR Demolition has called on the industry to change its mindset after three failures in August alone. These took place in Liverpool, Nuneaton and Reading – where three were injured.

Richard Dolman, managing director of AR Demolition and vice-president of the Institute of Demolition Engineers, has now invented as an alternative a modular debris protection frame and pioneered the use of blast mats on contracts in Nottingham and Cardiff.

Dolman believes it is time to adopt fresh approaches to dust suppression and debris protection and has called on fellow contractors to modernise and improve safety.

“For many years, I’ve never understood why people think is a good idea to fasten scaffolding to a building, then demolish the structure behind the scaffold using a machine,” he said.

“Scaffolding is useful if it’s used to take a building apart in reverse of how it was constructed, but I’ve never thought that it goes well with big machinery.

“It’s not even great for stopping dust because the minute you dissemble it, the dust goes everywhere.”

Modular debris protection frame is fast to erect

He said that the modular frame system took six months to design and could be transported in sections and bolted together in a day.

“The mats hang off a crane or a demolition rig – they’re 6m wide, 15m high and act as shield to stop debris and dust.

Blast mats hoisted and held by demolition rig

“Both systems are very unusual but they work brilliantly – as long as used they’re used within the right application and well within an exclusion zone – and we’ll be using them on several jobs over the next few months.

“Let me emphasise that I’m not saying there is no place for scaffolding in demolition. There are occasions – mainly during floor-by-floor, very controlled, small-scale demolition – when it is the most appropriate method of dust suppression and protection against debris.

“I just think that there are better methods which should be more commonplace. My fellow contractors should embrace change, not be afraid of it.”

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