Beware of the Wind on Brick Walls

Brick wall collapse in high windTragically last week another death occurred in Sydney with a brick wall collapse, involving strong wind and a second serious accident occurred about 20 km from the first, also related to the weather.  It was July last year, when again strong winds were involved in the death of another bricklayer.  Around the country we always have the potential for severe and erratic weather patterns which can be a real danger to bricklayers and other workers on building sites.

Safework NSWAgain, it is timely to remind the trade that falling brick walls can result in serious injuries or fatalities!  Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy yesterday reminded businesses that they need to consider all hazards when working in strong winds so that workers and the community aren’t injured.

Apprentices and other new workers on building sites have limited experience of all the conditions that can occur and how much side-loading a strong wind can put on a masonry wall.  It is very important for experienced tradesmen to warn apprentices of these hazards.

Control measures such as adequate bracing should be used to ensure masonry walls remain secure and not collapse, especially in strong winds.

Following a fatality in Victoria in 2014, WorkSafe Victoria published the following Safety Alert.

Safety Alert

Danger of freestanding masonry walls

Advice for employers (and others) on managing risks associated with freestanding masonry walls on construction sites:

Brick wall collapseBackground

Unstable or inadequately braced masonry walls expose workers and members of the public to a risk of death or serious injury.

Recently a worker died after a brick wall collapsed onto him on a construction site. This is the latest in a series of serious incidents involving masonry walls collapsing on construction sites. Other incidents have also resulted in deaths or serious injuries.

Often these walls have lacked the lateral support provided by permanent wall returns or other sections of the final structure such as wall or floor frames, or roof structures; which had yet to be installed.  Checklist of Employers Training Responsibility

Control Measures

Ensure freestanding masonry walls are stable and adequately braced at all times to prevent collapse when subjected to lateral forces, such as wind.

Temporary Bracing on Brick WallTemporary bracing should:

  • be used where the height of the wall exceeds 10 times the thickness of the wall
  • be provided from a lower height where lightweight masonry is used or the wall is in an area where wind speeds are likely to exceed 30 km/h
  • stabilise the entire length of the wall so it does not fall in either direction
  • not exceed two metres between individual braces
  • include wall support bearers (eg battens or strong-backs) of at least 500mm length
  • be retained until the required elements of the final structure are installed and provide adequate lateral support.

Where braces are required, they should be regularly checked by a competent person to ensure they are not removed, modified, or damaged.

If extreme weather is forecast, ensure that work ceases and a suitable large exclusion zone around any incomplete masonry wall is established and maintained.

An incomplete freestanding masonry wall should never be used as shelter during extreme weather, even if the wall has temporary bracing.

Remember, ABBTF is Your Resource for anything to do with your apprentice.  Call us on 1300 66 44 96 if you need assistance.

ABBTF Regional Manager

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