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Demolition contractors ‘should rethink scaffolding’

A demolition boss says that his industry should think twice before using scaffolding to shroud buildings under demolition.

Richard Dolman
Richard Dolman

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

His comments follow a spate of scaffolding collapses on demolition jobs in recent months – three in August alone in Reading, Liverpool and Nuneaton, with three injuries reported at the Reading incident.

“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,” Mr Dolman said.

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 structural collapse, you’re in real trouble as the recent incidents show.”

AR Demolition’s alternative solution is a modular debris protection frame and blast mats.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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