By Dan Straub
In the fall of 2021, President Biden and Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, earmarking the largest investment in the nation’s highways and bridges in more than a generation. Representing $1.2 trillion in expenditures, the law is aimed at repairing 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges.
One year later, the Administration has announced projects including highway and rail upgrades, supply chain enhancements, water treatment plant expansions, network improvements, and more.
Building and rehabilitating these critical infrastructure assets requires the hiring and training of thousands of workers at a time when the U.S. economy is dealing with an acute shortage of skilled workers. In fact, research indicated a shortage of about 650,000 skilled workers nationwide in 2022. While local communities, contractors, construction companies, and others welcome the influx of job opportunities driven by the investment in infrastructure, the paradigm shift ushers in another important consideration: Worker safety on the jobsite.
Does the hiring of unskilled workers to fill the void increase the possibility of injuries on the job?
How can construction companies ensure all their employees are operating in a safe environment, whether it is building a massive bridge across a major waterway or performing necessary repairs to an interstate that represents a vital artery to commerce?
Time to Form Up
When it comes to concrete construction, selecting the right formwork correlates directly with a greater degree of safety on any jobsite for anyone charged with climbing, assembling and installing equipment, and pouring the concrete. The sourcing of that formwork requires careful consideration and meticulous planning, something that must occur well before a shovel goes into the ground or heavy equipment is delivered to the site.
Among the key considerations:
• Ease of installation: How difficult is it to install and operate the formwork necessary to complete the job? Is the formwork engineered such that one or only a handful of workers can cycle it or set it for the next function, or does it require a large crew, increasing the
possibility of accidents?
• Safe cycling: Can crews managing the formwork on the job strike it from the top, rather than having to disassemble it from the underneath? If so, this also reduces the possibility of accidents.
• System weight: Is the system easier to handle and lighter than the others? Safety risks tend to increase when lifting higher loads. Lighter systems can reduce safety risk and simultaneously reduce costs.
The VARIOKIT Pier System (VPS) from PERI puts safety at the forefront when it comes to building bridge columns and caps. The two configurations—VARIOKIT Speed Stage (VSS) and VARIOKIT Speed Column (VSC)—also empower contractors to achieve optimal construction progress.
VPS enables teams to operate at the highest safety level from the commencement of operations. The complete platform and access safety is pre-assembled on the ground before lifting and installation of the cap system, providing a wide and safe workspace for rebar and
cap formwork installation.
When using the highly flexible PERI UP scaffolding system with PERI VPS, the working platforms can be completely installed within a matter of hours, eliminating time spent creating job-built
walkways and handrails.
In addition, the VARIOKIT Speed Stage (VSS) always allows direct access to the reinforcement at the highest safety level. The side formwork is independent from the rest of the system, which allows for high flexibility on the type of side formwork to use and the ability to cycle the side formwork the day after pouring.
Securing the Climb
On a job site that requires workers to perform their work in an elevated position on a structure, safety is critical. How do you prevent falls and minimize environmental factors that can lead to unsafe conditions?
PERI RCS Max Rail Climbing System combines the advantages of different climbing systems in a modular system and is used as climbing formwork as well as a climbing protection panel. Through the rail and shoe guided climbing, the units are securely connected to any structure. This makes the climbing procedure faster and safer, even in windy