Dangers from masonry walls on construction or demolition sites

Safety Alert | 17/08/2017

Inadequately secured masonry brick or block walls expose workers and members of the public to a risk of death or serious injury.

Background

Recently one worker died and another was seriously injured in separate brick wall collapses on Sydney construction sites.

These are the latest in a series of serious incidents involving masonry walls collapsing on construction and demolition sites. Other incidents have also resulted in deaths or serious injuries.

Contributing factors

Usually, these walls lacked the lateral support provided by permanent wall returns or other sections of the final structure eg-  wall or floor frames, roof structures yet to be installed or in the case of demolition sites, these supports being removed.

Wind or other lateral loadings.

Reduced mortar strength in new walls.

Damp course membranes providing a line of weakness.

Actions

Ensure the stability of masonry walls during construction or demolition work, by:

  • Prior to construction identifying walls that will need temporary support during construction and include temporary support locations and designs in the construction drawings.
  • Sequencing construction so that masonry walls are constructed at the same time as cross walls or returns so they provide lateral support to each other. This may limit the amount of temporary bracing required.
  • Limiting the height of each lift to avoid overloading green masonry.
  • Providing additional temporary support for lintels or other structural elements that place concentrated loads onto green masonry.
  • Avoid placing lateral loads on walls not yet secured into the structure, eg - do not lean materials against the walls.

When extreme weather is forecast or identified, cease work in the area of incomplete wall structures and establish a suitable exclusion zone.

Do not seek shelter behind walls of incomplete structures during extreme weather events, even if temporary supports are in place.

Further information

We are currently revising the 2009 'Masonry wall safety during construction guide'.

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Contact Us

Email
contact@safework.nsw.gov.au
Telephone
13 10 50