Demolition boss urges contractors to re-think scaffolding

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Managing director of AR Demolition, Richard Dolman, has urged contractors to re-think scaffolding to increase levels of safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness

Richard Dolman, MD of AR Demolition and vice-president of the Institute of Demolition Engineers, said it was time for contactors to consider new ways of dust suppression and protection from flying debris on demolition jobs.

Dolman has invented a modular debris protection frame and has initiated the use of blast mats.

He is now urging other contractors to embrace change and modernise, in order to increase levels of safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Dolman said: “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.

“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 disassemble it, the dust goes everywhere. If there’s a structural collapse, you’re in real trouble as the recent incidents show.

“Our modular frame system took six months to design and can be transported in sections and bolted together in a day. The mats hang off a crane or a demolition rig – they’re six metres wide, 15 metres high and act as shield to stop debris and dust. Only a few companies use it and as far as I know, we’re the only one which uses an incorporated jet system to spray water back on to the work face.

“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.”

Dolman continued: “Of course, embracing new technology requires investment, but the fact is that many contractors are set in their ways and afraid either of costs or of change.

“To my mind, these are simple things to do and the benefits are widespread for the client, the public and for demolition staff.

“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.

“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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