Expanding our world
Mast climbing scaffolding
The construction industry continues to rebound from the economic blues of the last few years. But it seems that our industry is pulling out and going upward into a recovery. This comes from many sources that validate what many of us feel is an upward surge in commercial construction projects. The Associated General Contractors of America reported that more than 80 percent of construction firms expanded their headcounts in 2015.
Having my finger on the pulse of our industry through our own mast climbing manufacturing plant, Premier Scaffold Solutions, and our USA rental houses, TNT Equipment Co., I can report that signs of recovery are real and in full force. Mast climbers are on the biggest climb in usage in many years. Rentals are strong, and manufacturers are building as fast as possible.
Mast climbers have become more than just single-liner set-ups for straight walls. Configurations from saw tooth to forward extensions and corner bridges just to name a few are used daily with heights reaching up to and even over 500 feet.
In today’s market, with labor costs and benefits increasing, mast climbers make the hard-to-reach jobs not only easier and safer than the traditional tube type or hand-crank scaffolding of the past, but also cost effective though lower set-up costs and ease of moving on sites. Another result is an increase in production, which means dollars back in the end-user’s pocket sooner, rather than later. Mast climbers have many options such as overhead protection, winter protection, monorail systems and hoisting solutions that help validate the popularity in our ever-demanding jobsite configurations and schedules.
Another reason for the mast climbing surge is job safety. General contractors are turning more to the option of having mast climbers set up on a job – used by all trades. This allows them to control the schedule more efficiently. Contractors can assure that the scaffolding in place is set up and maintained by manufacturing standards, meeting all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
Mast climbing manufactures offer training and service, either through their companies or qualified dealers. Third-party training facilities such as the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and private individuals are competent trainers as well. OSHA covers mast climbers under 1926 subpart l scaffolds, and its general duty clause 5(a)(1). It may also refer to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A92.9, which is a voluntary manufacturing standard. We know OSHA is working on a mast climbing standard, but don’t yet know when it may become reality.
No matter what rules and or regulations are in place, we need continuing education to make everyone who sets up and operates mast climbing equipment a competent person, or we risk accidents. Jobsite safety is and must be the No. 1 priority when using any mast climbing equipment.
In the last year, a couple of unfortunate accidents have occurred. It doesn’t matter the name brand or manufacturer, but what we learn from it and how we improve our safety standards for the whole industry does matter. Most accidents are usually from not applying manufacturing standards according to their manuals or not having a competent person on site to do the work. This can be changed by making sure that if you need training, you contact your dealer and or manufacturer and set up any and all training needed. Updating training is also something everyone should consider.
Mast climbing companies are continuing to develop new products and safety measurements. Premier Scaffold Solutions has released two new mast climbers in the last year and just finished a 180- x 40-foot plant expansion. Premier also has partnered with Fraco Scaffolding to build an electric, high-speed mast climber was released at the end of 2015 and was showcased at the World of Concrete 2016.
The industry is booming. With attention to safety training and implantation of new products, mast climbers will help lead the building of our future in the construction industry for many years to come.
About the Author
Michael Solomon is national sales manager for TNT Equipment Co. and PREMIER Scaffold Solutions.