The past few weeks have seen severe weather patterns of very strong winds across the country, which can be a real danger to bricklayers and other workers on building sites.
There have been reports of brick walls collapsing on building sites and it is timely to remind the trade that falling brick walls can result in serious injuries or fatalities!
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 published the following Safety Alert.
Danger of freestanding masonry walls
Advice for employers (and others) on managing risks associated with freestanding masonry walls on construction sites:
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
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 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.
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.