Mast Climbing Scaffolds
Mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs) have become increasingly popular in construction over the last ten years, particularly in the masonry industry. Mast climbing work platforms can be used as a single tower or as multiple towers braced together. The platform climbs the mast powered by an electric or gas engine. MCWPs are best suited for medium to high-rise projects with long span walls and are commonly used for brick and masonry work, painting, stucco, glazing, restoration, and window installation. Most low to medium height systems are freestanding, whereas high-rise applications must be tied to the structure at regular intervals as determined by the manufacturer.
MCWPs were first used in Europe during the 1970's and did not appear in North America until 1982. Most platforms are built of a modular design enabling the scaffold to be assembled and disassembled faster than conventional tubular frame scaffolds. Platform capacities range from 770 pounds to over 25,000 pounds and vertical travel speeds range from 3 to 40 feet per minute. Single platform lengths range from 7 – 75 feet and MCWP systems can reach heights of 500 feet or more. The power units for the European models generally use rack and pinion design for lift whereas most North American manufacturers use hydraulic lifting technology. Some models offer side wings with counterweights, which allow long corner returns, and others provide weather/overhead protection.
Benefits of Use
Unlike conventional scaffold, the entire platform moves with the workers which greatly increases efficiency and allows employees to work at the optimum height at all times. Bricklayers can perform their job safer when materials are close at hand and at a comfortable working height. Standard platforms of mast climbers are 7' wide, compared to the 5' wide conventional frame scaffold, which allows additional material storage and safe passageway. An entire pallet of brick or block can be loaded anywhere on the platform, which reduces the need for workers to bend, reach, or lift excessive weights using awkward postures throughout the workday.
|Mast Climbing Scaffold (19305)
© Mar. 2009 The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Hartford, CT 06155 All Rights Reserved
Another important benefit of MCWPs is their ease of erection
and dismantling. They offer mobile chassis on their base
for faster set-up and quicker assembly/disassembly. MCWPs
are also easier to anchor into the building structure than
conventional frame scaffold. MCWP manufacturers report
set-up times 30 – 40% faster than conventional frame scaffold.
Since the platform can be brought to the ground for restocking
materials such as brick and block, these scaffolds reduce
the need for high-reach material moving systems.
MCWPs provide access to great heights with significantly
less components to ship, assemble, and disassemble than
frame scaffold systems. MCWPs offer far greater stability,
heavier load capacities, faster travel speeds, and larger work
areas than suspended scaffolds, which were often the scaffold
of choice for high-rise projects. All MCWPs are equipped
with safety devices such as fail-safe braking systems, limit
switches, guardrails, and anchor points for fall arrest systems.
Compared to conventional frame scaffold and suspended
scaffold, the potential for fall-related accidents is reduced
when using mast climbers since workers stay on a wide,
secured platform even during erection and dismantling.
Statistics have shown that fewer accidents are occurring when
working on mast climbers despite their increased use over the
last few years. It is estimated that over 7,500 MCWPs were
in use within the United States in 2006.
Although workers derive many benefits from the use of MCWPs, especially relating to fall protection and ergonomics, their use is not fool-proof. A number of catastrophic incidents have occurred while working from MCWPs and the majority of these incidents were attributed to poor training and supervision.
The following is a partial list of catastrophic incidents relating to the use of mast climbers.
Common deficiencies in the use of MCWPs which may contribute to a catastrophic incident, if left undetected, include:
Safe Work Practices
As MCWPs become ever more popular in the United States, more specialized training should be considered for users and installers. Many construction supervisors and laborers who were previously trained on traditional scaffolds will require additional training before using MCWPs.
While MCWP demand has increased and the machines are being erected on more job sites around the country, education and training on these towering structures have drastically lagged behind. Manufacturers and industry organizations are now making a concerted effort to close that knowledge gap. Since MCWPs vary greatly among manufacturers, hands-on training provided by the manufacturer is the most effective method of training.
Unlike European countries, there is no federal legislation in the United States specific to the installation, inspection, maintenance, and use of MCWPs. Despite their widespread use over the last few years, OSHA has made no effort to promulgate a standard for MCWP use. Instead, the agency relies on its general duty clause 5(a)(1) and the more specific regulations it developed for older scaffolds.
California, however, has incorporated by reference the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI/SIA A92.91993 Mast-Climbing Work Platforms voluntary standard in its General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) Section 3638. The standard defines the responsibilities of mast climber dealers, owners, users, operators, lessors and lessees.
For More Information
For more information, contact your local Hartford agent or your Hartford Loss Control Consultant. Visit The Hartford's Loss Control web site at www.thehartford.com/corporate/losscontrol/
The information provided in these materials is intended to be general and advisory in nature. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) will be an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety, legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant, attorney or business advisors. All information and representations herein are as of March 2009.
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