Speaking out on scaffolding

AR Demolition boss calls for change of mindset over use of scaffolding.

Richard Dolman, managing director of AR Demolition, has demonstrated the kind of leadership he will require when he takes up the reins as president of the Institute of Demolition Engineers (IDE) by calling upon the industry to change its mindset in the wake of a spate of scaffolding collapses.

This year has seen several scaffolding failures on projects – three in August alone in Reading, Liverpool and Nuneaton, with three injuries reported at the Reading incident.
Dolman, currently vice-president of the Institute of Demolition Engineers, said it was time for the sector to consider new methods of dust suppression and protection from flying debris on demolition jobs.

“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. 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. If there’s structural collapse, you’re in real trouble as the recent incidents show,” he says. “Correct exclusion zones are crucial. Clients often push for small zones, not letting us close footpaths and roads. But in explosive demolition the exclusion zone has to be a radius three times as wide of the height of the structure. So why is that not the same with non-explosive work? Without scaffolding you don’t need people working at height, which as we all know is the biggest cause of serious injury throughout the construction industry. And scaffolding also gives the public a false sense of security, making people walk right next to a building being demolished rather than giving it a suitably wide berth,” Dolman concludes. “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.

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