A closer look at mast climbing work platforms
MCWPs have become the preferred method of access in the masonry industry
Mast climbing work platforms (MCWP) have a history built from a combination of not only knowledge, but also creativity, passion, mastery and proficiency. Combined, these qualities resulted in a product built of excellence and distinguished by power, the MCWP.
Surprisingly, North America didn’t see its first MCWP used for masonry purposes until 1982. Since then, their use has become the preferred method of access in the masonry industry. MCWPs offer the mason contractors access that not only increases productivity, but also generates successful projects from gains in efficiency, adequacy, reliability and safety. As a result, MCWPs are becoming the choice for access to multi-unit residential, commercial and industrial masonry industry.
As an expert in the MCWP industry, Jay Gordon, president of Klimer Platforms, provided Masonry with a look into the history of MCWP’s roll in the masonry industry, as well as an assessment of how far they have come since infancy.
Masonry: Has the acceptance for mast climbers in masonry construction changed since the 1990s?
Jay Gordon: I believe it has; their use is a function of economics, ease of use and compliance with safety. All three are creating a positive drive to the increase in use of mast climbers in masonry. Advancements in mast climbers since the 1990s make them easier to use and install, and new accessories make them more versatile, so they can be utilized in more situations.
It used to be that you would see mast climbers only on higher projects, those above four or five floors. We now see their use on two-story structures, particularly when they are owned by the contractor. With falls from height being in OHSA’s Top 10 list of citations, scaffolds have being getting their fair share of attention from compliance officers. Due to far fewer components and the fact that the guard rails move with the platform, it makes it easier for the contractors to be compliant with the safety regulations during use, installation and dismantle.
Masonry: What was the most significant masonry project that comes to mind that used mast climbers in the last two decades?
Gordon: Regarding the 2000s, the North American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C., comes to mind. There was not a straight wall on the project. It won masonry project of the year.
Regarding 2011, the project is under construction: The Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. It is a collection of sloping wall sections and glazing that represent a mountain and the clouds. It will look fantastic when it is done. The unique design brings a number of challenges for the masonry contractor, GA Masonry. The building envelope consists of walls of varying in slope from three degrees to 27 degrees from vertical. Access to get material to the elevated wall sections is limited.
Masonry: You've been involved in the industry since the mid-1990s. Have you seen a shift in the knowledge of mast climbers in the masonry industry?
Gordon: I have seen a wider use of the equipment, indicating an overall wider awareness of the MCWP. Mason contractors are getting creative and comfortable with their use. The down side to that is that, in certain circumstances, complacency may set in. I want to encourage all users to continually ensure that their installers and masons have the training they need to keep them safe and avoid any accidents.
Masonry: What were common questions mason contractors had about mast climbers back in the 1990s, compared to 2010?
Gordon: Regarding the 1990s, I was asked, “How much weight can I put on it? You want how much for it? Are you crazy?”
Regarding 2010, I was asked, “Can you have it here tomorrow? Because two other guys can, and they’re not charging for delivery.”
After visiting numerous masonry jobsites this summer, one thing was clear: Mason contractors love mast climbing work platforms. Face-to-face conversations with masonry companies have allowed us to dig deeper into the reasons why MCWPs are a more promising choice in the world of masonry.
Mast climbing work platforms were described as extremely efficient, ergonomic, productive, easy to install and user-friendly, not to mention they provided an increase in competitive edge for the mason contractor. We were happy to see the immense progress MCWPs were able to offer many projects.
Regardless of the site specifics, MCWPs significantly enhance any project’s profile. While increasing productivity and enhancing efficiency, MCWPs certainly are a smart choice for any masonry application. Without a doubt, mast climbers offer you the height of performance.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.