The main cause of collapse during masonry alterations is through overloading the equipment due to under estimating the weight of the load and over extending Strongboy’s from the wall to either avoid internal 1st floor wall damage or to gain more fitting work space as eccentrically loading an Acrow prop greatly affects its capacity.
The drawing below shows a correctly fitted Strongboy when supporting a cavity wall and maintaining the maximum 340kg safe working load.
When the Acrow prop is removed away from the wall to gain further fitting space the safe working load reduces to an unknown level.
The Maximum Safe Working Loads
A correctly used Acrow prop, maximum safe working load, 3,400Kg.
An Acrow prop used within the props and needles method, maximum safe working load, 1,700Kg.
When fitted with a Strongboy or any similar designed product an Acrow props safe working load is severely reduced by at least 90%, from 3,400kg down to the maximum 340kg and can even reduce down to 0kg of which depends on the size & the working height of the Acrow prop, how plumb, how tightly fitted and how far the Acrow prop is positioned from the centre of the wall and is fully explained within this guide.
10 Acrow props fitted with Strongboy’s have an identical safe working load as 1 Acrow prop.
All tasks of supporting masonry are different.
What is the nature of the task, is it remedial works or fitting a permanent support? Is it forming a new opening or increasing the size of an existing opening? Is the opening in a 4″single skin of masonry, two skins or even more? Or is the opening in the outer or inner leaf of a cavity wall or in both?
What is the age and condition of the masonry and what is the masonry material? What design (cavity or solid)? What is the size of the cavity? What thickness is the wall? Which bond is the masonry and which mortar mix, cement or lime?
What are the existing ceiling heights? What are the size and direction of floor/joists, are they load bearing onto the wall or are they non load bearing? Does the existing floor impede the internal fitting access?
What height is the opening, ground floor, first floor or higher? Is a permanent support fitted underneath joists? Are the existing joists fitted within the web of the permanent support or is the permanent support fitted at the same height or below non load bearing joists?
What masonry opening size (including bearings) is required? Is a load-point intact? What is the total weight of the load that requires support? Which variety of lintel/s or steel/s are specified or most suitable? What’s the length, depth, width, thickness and weight of the permanent support/s?
Which equipment or variety of temporary support equipment is designed to support the masonry and the weight of the load safely and also provides sufficient fitting work access without over extending and dangerously overloading itself?
The more temporary support methods known, the safer and easier the different tasks of supporting masonry become.
Temporary support equipment options in alphabetical order; Acrow props, Brick Brace, Needles, Prop-Wise and Strongboy’s?
Using a variety of temporary masonry support equipment safely reduces repair time, supporting the masonry in between props and also improving the unknown variable safe working load of the existing propping methods;
Brick Brace with Acrow props, Brick Brace with Needles, Brick Brace with Prop-Wise or Brick Brace with Strongboy’s and depends on the task at hand of which variety is most suitable.
The misleading theory behind a Strongboy is to use fewer Acrow props and to reduce masonry damage and is marketed within that manner, which certainly is not the case upon wider openings when the maximum safe working load is only a fraction (1/5) of the correct propping and needling method and when maintaining the 340kg safe working load, the hole within both sides of the cavity or 9″ wall is actually larger than fitting a needle and with at least five times more fitting holes required than one 1,700kg safe working load needle.
The photo above shows a correctly fitted Strongboy with the web fitted under the 9” wall and penetrating the internal skin to maintain the maximum 340kg safe working load.
Without warning a Strongboy dangerously misuses the Acrow prop due to the severe eccentricity of the load and because the web of the Strongboy sends the load onto the side of the Acrow props inner tube of which is designed for vertical loads from the head plate down to the foot plate only.
An eccentrically loaded Acrow prop curves and loses height when overloaded or over tightened which is the legal duty of the user not to overload and to work with an Acrow prop fitted with a Strongboy in a safe, professional and competent manner.
It’s not possible for a Strongboy or any similar designed product to give the correct fitting work access for every task without dangerously overloading itself, further equipment should also be used which is why we created the non intrusive Brick Brace Safety Tool and Safety System.
We do not endorse the misuse of any temporary support equipment but anyone that continues to overload Strongboy’s through over extending from the wall we highly recommend bracing the masonry beforehand to increase the variable unknown safe working load and to reduce the risk of collapse, especially within lime mortar masonry.
A full 360 degree turn of the Acrow props adjustable collar raises the working height by 8mm, jacking or over tightening can dangerously overload an Acrow prop especially when eccentrically propping with a Strongboy as the measurement from masonry to the solid base will not change, only the Acrow prop or the Strongboy will deflect or distort.
As seen in the graph below, the safe working load of an Acrow prop reduces when the inner tube of an Acrow prop is raised from the outer tube, ensure to use the correct sized Acrow prop most suitable for the height of the particular task.
To avoid curving the Acrow prop, the inner tube should not exit the outer tube no more than 50% when eccentrically propping.
An overloaded Acrow prop fitted with a Strongboy is solely relying on the lateral strength of the masonry to avoid major collapse which is why the Brick Brace should also be used to strengthen the masonry when propping, especially within lime mortar masonry due to its weaker lateral strength.
When working upon load bearing walls, plumb and concentrically loaded Acrow props must also be used to support roof timbers, joists and beams separately due to the different live/static loads they may be carrying. Check the condition of joists and beams before propping, where in an unsatisfactory condition replace or repair before continuing.
Do not attempt external masonry alterations in severe wet, gusty or windy conditions due to the further and unknown dynamic loads.
When fitting a permanent support within active living accommodation ensure the rooms above are vacated and locked/closed.
Respect your legal responsibilities and respect the welfare of others around you.
THE STRONGBOY INSTRUCTIONS WERE CHANGED IN NOV’ 2015
TWO SECTIONS OF THE OLD INSTRUCTIONS
On normal cavity walls the maximum distance from the centre line of the Acrow prop to centre line of the cavity wall is 215mm ( 9″ inches) or using the leading edge of the hammer plate as a guide, measure 150mm to the centre of the cavity. See drawing below.
For a wider hole on stable walls the Strongboy’s should be positioned a maximum of 900mm apart.
TWO SECTIONS OF THE NEW COINCIDING STRONGBOY INSTRUCTIONS
(updated November 2015)
The distance between props should be calculated from the assessment of the loading. Always use the correct number of Strongboy’s for the job.
A Strongboy can be used on single or double skin walls where each leaf is up to 4 ½” (112mm) thick. If double skin, the maximum cavity is 2” (50mm). Ensure the blade of the Strongboy is fully supporting the second skin.
The misleading instructions of the Strongboy have increased the risk of the user to overload and to underestimate the weight of the load and has also suppressed the true level of knowledge required to tackle the many different tasks of masonry alterations safely and correctly and It’s not possible for a Strongboy or any similar designed product to give the correct fitting/work access for every task without dangerously overloading itself.
9″ brickwork can weigh in excess of 600kg per square metre, (120 bricks plus mortar) which would require at least five Strongboy’s per linear metre (at 167mm centre’s) upon a larger opening on a typical two storey residential property, that could weigh 1,440kg per linear metre without roof loads and making the use of Strongboy’s unsuitable & obsolete for that particular task.
A Strongboy was designed in the mid 1980’s when the typical cavity size was only 50mm but due to changes in construction design a cavity has doubled to 100mm and open plan living accommodation has increased opening sizes.
Attempting tasks which require wider steels with welded top or bottom plates for large cavities and still only using Strongboy’s is where further problems of overloading through over extending from the wall to gain more fitting space arise.
The new instructions (updated Nov’ 2015) strangely suggest that propping a 9″ wall by over 300mm eccentricity from the centre line of the wall to the centre line of the Acrow prop is acceptable even when the safe working load is reduced to an unknown level and when the Strongboy is totally dependent on the unknown lateral strength of the lime mortar masonry to avoid collapse.
Within the new instructions there is no mention of the maximum eccentricity of 215mm. All measurements are taken from the end of the bendable and over sized tongue, “If” this was a correct method of measuring eccentric loads it is actually safer to support a 100mm cavity wall which is not permitted than supporting a 50mm cavity wall which is permitted, as the measurement from the centre line of the Acrow prop to the centre line of the wall is 25mm less eccentric.
The majority of tasks require far more fitting work space than the Strongboy can give when still maintaining the maximum 340kg safe working load and when not dangerously removing the opening down to the full finished level without the permanent support being fitted as this increases the risk of collapse through accidental removal of loaded Acrow props during the demolition of the masonry. To reduce the risk of minor and major collapse only a few courses of masonry should be carefully removed to allow for the safe fitting of the permanent support. Once the permanent support is in the final position and cured, then the rest of the opening can be removed down to the full finished depth.
To change the rules and instructions of a product can not be lawful when it dangerously reduces the S.W.L to an unknown quantity and also endorses further misuse of which creates a higher risk of collapse during masonry alterations.
There are now approximately 15 companies and sole traders that sell similar designed products as the “Strongboy” with the majority being sold without the correct level of testing or written instructions of which both are required to comply with the provision and use of work equipment regulations and yet the H.S.E do nothing about it due to a “lack of staff”!
The list of new companies and sole traders that manufacture copies will continue to grow and the quality will be sacrificed to become the least expensive if no instructions of use or correct testing are required and when the H.S.E do not police the problem in the correct manner.
Through our own professional research, we have discovered that no temporary masonry support equipment is safe to use unless provided with written guidance at the point of sale/hire as this reduces the risk of misuse through making incorrect assumptions and is why we provide full instructions and a correct procedure with every product we sell.
(The Up-dated Strongboy instructions are available to view in part eight)
In layman terms of British law, the user of any temporary support equipment should;
A, plan a task in advance due to every task being totally different.
B, have the ability to choose and correctly use a variety of temporary support equipment of which offers a safe fitting/work access for the particular task without overloading itself.
C, have a clear understanding of masonry loads and to know the equipment’s capacities and to ensure not to overload the equipment in any form.
Back in 2013 the H.S.E website stated that the main cause of collapse during masonry alterations was from overloading equipment due to the lack of awareness of the equipment capacity and underestimating the weight of the load.
Through our own research the causes of collapse during alterations are also due to the following;
1, The user making assumptions of correct use due to not understanding the misleading Strongboy instructions or verbally misinformed of how to use the equipment safely.
2, Unknowingly decreasing the safe working load when removing a Strongboy away from the wall to avoid internal wall damage and/or to gain further fitting work space as no warning of this is in place.
3, A Strongboy being recommended, endorsed and permitted by structural engineers even when the device is not most suitable for a particular task and not giving the correct fitting work access without dangerously overloading itself.
4, No written guidance for Acrow props, Strongboy’s or Genie lifts are provided by the retailers to falsely ease a dangerous task to gain more sales.
5, The user making assumptions of correct use due to no warnings or guidance being provided at the point of sale or hire by the majority of retailers.
6, No correct procedures of using a Strongboy are in place for the many different tasks of supporting 4″, 9″& 13″ walls or for the different sized cavity walls and also due to a severe lack of guidance from the H.S.E.
7, Using Strongboy’s upon larger openings when the props and needles method is far safer and more suitable as they offer the correct fitting work access with fewer impeding Acrow props without dangerously overloading & without having the need to remove the opening to the full depth before a permanent support is in the final position.
8, Compromising safety to save time and to reduce costs by propping dangerously from only one side to avoid internal wall damage upon finished 1st floor rooms.
9, Not knowing how to safely plan a task and then taking unnecessary risks due to not using a variety of temporary support equipment most suitable for the task.
10, Insufficient testing and research of the Strongboy and of similar designed products.
11, Rushing a task through not pricing correctly.
12, Not seeking expert temporary support advice when in doubt.
13, No drawings of correct use are provided and no Acrow prop guidance supplied at the point of sale or hire by the majority of retailer’s.
14, the H.S.E allowing misleading instructions for over twenty five years and allowing a product to be sold without any warnings or guidance to financially gain from the fines.
15, The market monopoly of a product with a brand name that implies strength but reduces the safe working load of an Acrow prop by at least 90% without warning or testing upon the different sized Acrow props and is overloaded with the same amount of ease as the manufacturer’s say it is to use.
16, A product that is designed to deceive and to be misused and also increases the risk of overloading due to the long bendable tongue that easily exceeds the maximum 215mm eccentricity without any warning.
17, The Strongboy manufacturer making false claims and devaluing the correct method of props and needles for over thirty years.
18, Misleading new instructions that have increased the eccentricity by over 50% without further testing, warnings or explanation.
19, The lack of awareness that every task is totally different and not knowing that a variety of temporary support equipment is required to tackle every different task of masonry alterations safely and correctly.
20, Not using the fully tested Brick Brace safety tool to maximise the unknown variable safe working load of all the existing propping methods to reduce the risk of minor and major collapse when propping.
Authority without the correct level of knowledge is dangerous to the public!
In their own words, the role of the H.S.E is to provide advice, information and guidance, to raise safety awareness, to Inspect, investigate and to take enforcement actions.
The H.S.E have failed on every account within temporary masonry support works and future generations are also only one lesson away from also misusing Strongboy’s as they are taught by misleading instructions and by the majority of structural engineers, retailers and builders that think it’s acceptable to misuse Strongboy’s to avoid internal wall damage.
We recently asked the institute of structural engineers:
“How is it possible for a competent structural engineer to design a task safely with Strongboy’s when the safe working load varies from 340kg down to 0kg of which depends on the size of the Acrow prop used, which pin-hole height is used, how tightly the Acrow prop is fitted, how plumb and how far the Acrow prop is fitted from the centre of the wall”?
“Can you confirm that the new instructions of a Strongboy are acceptable and do not require any revision? And can you also confirm the market monopoly of the Strongboy and the misleading instructions have not fixed the typical builders and retailer’s mind-set and stopped further and essential temporary masonry support equipment join the market place”?
“The Health and Safety Panel has discussed in great detail and over many e-mails the comments that you have raised. The Panel has taken the time to discuss the situation and the position of the Institution. With that the Panel thanks you for your query.
As a learned society the Institution exists to promote the art and science of structural engineering and does not comment on the efficacy of proprietary products.”
The H.S.E also refuse to answer any of our questions.
Not commenting on the dangers of a Strongboy is why collapse is such a reoccurring theme on site. Endorsing and promoting the Strongboy by designing temporary works with the product when not suitable for the task and then not providing warnings or correct procedures in writing to the paying contractor and also allowing misleading instructions is far from a science or an art form, only dangerous.
A qualified structural engineer didn’t attend university to design inferior temporary support works so why have IstructE and the H.S.E made it strangely acceptable to prop the rear of a property on a number of over loaded mild steel bendable tongues that sit eccentrically upon a misused Acrow prop and when the obvious accident’s continue to reoccur it’s only ever the contractor that’s at fault and fined or maybe imprisoned where collapse causes a fatality?
CONFLICT OF INTEREST!
“Over £69,000,000 worth of fines were collected by the H.S.E between 2016-2017”
Something is amiss when a government body is in control of raising safety awareness and can also benefit from handing out fines to builders and contractor’s that aren’t safety aware due to the insufficient information the H.S.E provide and which also allow the misleading marketing & incorrect instructions of the Strongboy.
To prevent/reduce the risk of accidents there are over 20 H.S.E leaflets available for the “busy builder” which provide up to date guidance from ground excavations to avoiding overhead power lines, however there is”still” not one word of H.S.E guidance available for masonry alterations in 2018, which is the most under researched, difficult and dangerous task within the Construction industry.
Eccentrically propping a masonry wall is far more difficult & dangerous than using a ladder, so why do the H.S.E think it is acceptable to provide a seven page leaflet on how to use a ladder and do not provide any masonry alterations guidance when they have improved the vast majority of simple work procedures in the work place and other construction industry sectors immensely since the 1980’s, is it due to their lack of temporary masonry support knowledge or is it their inability to correct the situation without accepting the responsibility of the fault of which they helped create in the first instance by allowing the Strongboy that dangerously misuses an Acrow prop without warning and also allowing incorrect procedures and misleading instructions for over thirty years, or is it for the H.S.E to financially gain from on the spot fines given out to unaware builder’s on a daily basis throughout Britain?
When carrying out temporary needling and propping one of the most important aspects is to ensure that the props are concentrically loaded and plumb.
The use of a steel bracket on top of the prop giving a minimum eccentricity of 200 mm would not seem to be such a good idea?
Interestingly such a product does exist and has proved very popular with builders who see it an advantage to prop only one side of a wall.
The prop is sold and hired from builders’ merchants with minimal safety instructions and is potentially unsafe due to bending moments being introduced by this product into Acrow props designed only for axial compression. Any device that modifies the behaviour of props by introducing bending moments is potentially hazardous.
Another reporter has come across these in use and in his view they must only be used in the case of limited openings where the masonry can arch over leaving only a small triangle of masonry below the arching that can potentially break away.
All in all these are for light use only and never for heavy shoring. The reporter thinks that the manufacturers, and possibly the hire companies, would be negligent if they did not provide some guidance on the use of such prop head plates.
Another reporter has frequently seen builders using props with cantilevering head-plates which cause the supporting props to bend. Some years ago he photographed a set of such props which had very noticeable curvatures. The wall above had dropped in consequence causing damage to the building and resulting in a substantial claim against the builder. The reporter generally advises builders not to use such head-plates.
Correct propping is essential and temporary works failures are a recurrent theme on site. It appears that this type of prop should only be used in specific low risk circumstances.
ACROW PROP GUIDANCE
As seen in the graph below, a size no1 to a size no3 Acrow prop have maximum safe working loads of approximately 3,400kg with a size no3 reducing down to approximately 600kg when the adjustable working height is fully raised at four metres.
Between the height’s of 2.2 metres to 3 metres, a size 3 Acrow prop (purple) has a far superior safe working load than a size 1 or size 2 Acrow prop (red and green), ensure to use the correct sized Acrow prop for the task at hand.
A Strongboy has a maximum safe working height of three metres from a permanent solid base.
The tongue of a Strongboy is designed to support two skins and is too long to support only the outer skin of a cavity wall when the internal skin of masonry impedes, the safe working load is severely reduced when the tongue bends and should be avoided as there are safer options available.
Acrow Props exhibiting any of the following defects should not be used;
A tube with a bend, a tube with more than superficial corrosion, a prop with a bent head or base plate, an incorrect or a damaged pin or a pin not properly attached to the prop by the correct chain or wire.
Install props vertical to ensure that it can support its specified load. Props must never be used more than 50mm out of true vertical for every 1.8m in height as this severely decreases the S.W.L.
Ensure the base of the prop is bearing directly onto the surface and that the surface is capable of supporting the weight that will be placed upon it. Screw props to surfaces and spreader plates where possible to reduce the risk of collapse through accidental skids, knocks & movement.
Forked prop attachments should be used to reduce eccentric loads and to ensure a superior safe working load when using needles.
Lime mortar masonry acts differently than cement mortar masonry during alterations which is why the Brick Brace should also be used when possible where propping lime mortar masonry.
The Importance Of A Load-Point?
A 35 degree angle in a stretcher bond and a 25 degree angle in a Flemish bond from both ends of the opening, carrying up to the central perpendicular joint where both angles meet is the load-point.
When an opening is made within an existing wall and a load point is intact, the triangle of brickwork above the opening is the only masonry that could collapse and therefore is the only masonry that requires temporary support.
This small triangle of masonry is what Strongboy’s were designed to support when used correctly and fitted 900mm apart.
Upon larger openings when any of the 3 points of the triangle do not remain, this law changes and the weight of the whole storey height above will rest back over the length of the opening (including roof loads, when they apply) due to the masonry above not having the correct arching effect.
On a typical two storey residential property, this can weigh up to 10 times more than the smaller triangle and is why Strongboy’s are so easily overloaded upon wider openings.
Fit the Brick Brace As shown within the drawing below to re-instate a load-point and safely reduce the weight of the load back to the small triangle of masonry and minimise the amount of impeding Strongboy’s required without dangerously overloading the equipment.
(Scenario C below, shows the Brick Brace Safety System being used within a lime mortar mix)
An overloaded prop attachment relies solely on the unknown lateral strength of the masonry and is why the Brick Brace should also be used when possible especially within weak or lime mortars.
The Brick Brace Safety tool and the correct procedures address all the main causes of minor and major collapse during masonry alterations.
Please view our masonry weight awareness chart for further guidance.
A Class System Is In Place;
To please their clients, architects have the artistic freedom to design & draw any opening size they wish within existing masonry with a few lines and a rubber and with no care of how it is done in real life, a structural engineer endorses a product & provides a method to save on costs which doesn’t give the correct fitting work space without dangerously overloading itself, the builder/contractor then purchase or hire Strongboy’s to avoid internal wall damage of which is sold by a vast majority of retailers with zero masonry alterations knowledge and when the obvious accidents of overloading continue reoccur due to using incorrect equipment only the builder/contractor is at fault and fined or even imprisoned for corporate manslaughter when collapse causes a fatality.
The New Strongboy Instructions
Taken from the Strongboy Ltd website
(updated Nov’ 2015)
Prior to using any Strongboy masonry support, you should identify that this is a suitable method to carry out the intended works.
You must correctly identify all loading that the Strongboys will have to support. The total load may simply be the masonry above the opening, but it will also include loads from a floor and/or a roof that is supported by the wall. Floor loading may need to include any heavy furniture in an upstairs room, a full bath, people walking on the supported floor, etc. Roof loading includes supported timbers/steelwork, roof tiles, loft mounted water tanks and the like.
It is recommended that only one single opening in any one length of wall be created at any given time.
You should check that the wall masonry and any floor/roof timbers are in good condition prior to any work being carried out as remedial work may be needed prior to the opening being altered or created.
Strongboy Masonry support is not recommended to be used to provide temporary support to unstable structures.
You should obtain competent structural engineering advice if there is any doubt about the condition of the structure or the nature of the loading, or if any unusual loads are suspected.
!!!CAUTION!!! STRONGBOYS ARE HEAVY AND MAY HAVE SOME SHARP EDGES. ALWAYS WEAR PROTECTIVE GLOVES AND APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING / FOOTWEAR WHEN HANDLING !
Instructions for use:
Mark the wall in the correct position where the Strongboy is to be inserted
Scrape or grind out the mortar, or remove a brick prior to insertion of the Strongboy in the identified position. Always ensure the underside of the brick to be supported is clean and will sit flat on the blade of the Strongboy.
The Strongboy is designed for use with standard telescopic screw props with a 6” x 6” (150 x 150mm) head. Strongboys should not be used on struts as these have a much smaller head. The prop should only be placed on firm, flat, compacted ground that is capable of supporting the load. A sole board should be placed under each prop – eg 18” x 9” x 1½” (450 x 225 x 36mm)
Hold prop vertically upright with one hand close to where the intended usage is.
With your other hand holding the supporting web, tilt leading edge of Strongboy blade up approximately 30 degrees.
Lower the leading edge of the Strongboy blade until the web bracket is located against the vertical tube of the plate and the blade of the Strongboy is horizontal.
To check the Strongboy is correctly engaged, pull the front edge of the blade down. The Strongboy should not move.
The Strongboy may now be manoeuvred into the correct position for use.
Insert the blade into the mortar space or brick hole until the blade is at least at the same depth as the rear of the brick on the leaf of the wall which is intended to be supported. Where possible the Strongboy should be inserted until the tip of the web is nearly touching the wall.
Ensuring the prop remains completely vertical and in plumb, tighten the collar of the prop until the Strongboy and prop are fully engaged with the wall and do not move. Do not over tighten as that may cause the blade to bend. Hand tight is generally sufficient. Over tightening may damage the brickwork and the prop and Strongboy and may cause the blade to slide out of the brickwork.
Maximum load bearing capacity of 340 Kgs per unit (750lb )
Maximum safe working height 3 metres from firm base .
The distance between props should be calculated from the assessment of the loading, but in any case, it should not exceed 3ft or 900mm.
Always have the loadings checked and use the correct number of Strongboys for the job. If in doubt, you should obtain competent structural engineering advice.
If the width of the intended opening is greater than 4m we recommend that the props be horizontally laced and diagonal braced together using scaffolding poles and proprietary couplings .
The Strongboy can be use on single or double skin walls where each leaf is up to 4 ½” (112mm) thick. If double skin, the maximum cavity is 2” (50mm). Ensure the blade of the Strongboy is fully supporting the second skin.
Check that the prop is not working loose on a regular basis – eg continuously while the opening is being made, otherwise daily. Arrange the work so that the Strongboys and props are not knocked or displaced. If this could happen then lacing and bracing using scaffold poles and fittings can help prevent accidental movement (standard fittings onto the prop inner tube and 68.3mm fittings onto the outer tube).
A Similar Designed Product, Instructions Of Correct Use, set out below.
DO NOT use this equipment unless you have read and understood these procedures.
A COMPETENT PERSON MUST CARRY OUT A SPECIFIC RISK ASSESSMENT AND PROVIDE A SAFE SYSTEM OF WORK (TEMPORARY SUPPORT PLAN) BEFORE USING THE SPARTAN SUPPORT PROP.
RECOMMENDED USE OF SPARTANS
Propping of brickwork/lintels when removing a lintel and filling in door and window openings
Fitting of one new RSJ beam, concrete lintel or timber header beam at a time over a new or existing opening.
SAFE WORKING LOAD OF SPARTANS
A Structural engineer experienced in temporary works should always be appointed to assess the building and establish a temporary support plan for the work to be carried out. The assessment must include working out the load to be supported. This will include the weight of the wall above the opening and the effect of any timber or steelwork that is in turn supported by the wall that is to be worked on. The load to be supported must be checked against the safe working load of the support equipment to determine how many supports are required and the position of each support.
The temporary propping design should include a start to finish sequence for carrying out the work and set out suitable methods for conducting the work. In some cases, involving creation of a new opening or major changes to the existing arrangement it may be advisable to brick up any redundant openings first. It may be necessary to fit and cure the new lintel prior to removing the full panel of masonry below it.
Think about the weight of the new lintel and how it will be fed into position (and how any old lintel will be removed). Make sure that the Spartan and prop locations will allow the lintel to be fitted easily.
If the temporary support design would require Spartans to be placed side by side, then cantilever prop attachments are unlikely to be suitable for the job and an alternative propping method should be used – such as propping both sides of the wall with the wall load carried on a series of needles that pass through the wall.
All design and temporary works procedures should be carried out in accordance with the latest version of BS 5975
RECOMMENDED SAFETY FOR THE USE OF SPARTANS
Only use Spartans to create one opening at a time.
Always ensure there is sufficient masonry at either side of the opening to carry permanent and temporary loadings.
Do not use Spartans in deteriorated or unstable masonry.
Do not exceed 900mm spacing between props.
Do not exceed the certificated testing SWL of 360kg for both the large and regular Spartans.
Spartans load tested up to a maximum height of 2900mm using a number 1 Acrow Prop. Note that this figure is the distance from firm, level ground to the Spartan blade. Each prop should rest on no more than a single sole board that is in full contact with the ground.
When fitting use a spirit level to ensure each support, prop is vertical in both planes
Check frequently to ensure the Spartans/support props are secure, supporting the load, free from deflection or bowing and that the props are vertical.
If any damage, deflection or movement of the props becomes evident, then an additional Spartan/support prop should be added between the existing supports to spread the load and remove any deflection. This should also be done if an individual prop needs adjusting or replacing.
If the arrangement is to be left in incomplete condition for more than a few hours, fit straight support props directly below the opening. This should also be done if the wall appears to be in worse condition than the original assessment suggested. In this circumstance you should consult your structural engineer to obtain advice on recovering the situation.
PRE-OPERATIONAL SAFETY CHECKS.
Spartans and support props must only be used by experienced persons who understand what the equipment is suitable for, how it is intended to be used, and who know how to carry out the work without damaging the building and without creating a risk of structural collapse.
This equipment must not be used by persons affected by drugs or alcohol.
Check that the safe working load of the Spartan and support prop will not be exceeded.
Cordon off the work area with fencing to prevent unauthorised persons entering the area.
Display warning signs informing non-authorised persons to keep out of the work area.
Clear the work area of hazards that may cause slips, trips and falls.
Put on personal protective clothing including safety helmet EN397, safety footwear EN345 and work gloves suitable to the task. Additional PPE such as face masks FFP2 and safety goggles EN166-B should be used whilst drilling, grinding or cutting brickwork/mortar. Note that airborne dust from concrete, brick, mortar etc contains free silica and is carcinogenic (causes lung cancer) if inhaled. Use water spray to suppress dust and to flush out dust where a clean surface is required. Do not use air to blow out dust.
Carry out a pre-use inspection of the equipment to be used as a temporary support.
Checks should include that all sections of the equipment are straight, welds are intact and no components such as prop pins and ring collars are missing. Do not use damaged equipment– eg dented, bowed, buckled, corroded or cracked props, remove from use and isolate to prevent use. Do not carry out self-repairs and in particular do not substitute anything for the correct prop pin. Do not use Spartans on trench struts – the props must have 150mm x 150mm head and sole plates.
Carry out an inspection of the ground condition and confirm that it is adequate to take the load of the temporary support and the structure. A sole board under each prop can help spread the load into the ground – which must be firm and level. Do not use a prop in a location unless the sole board is fully bearing on the ground.
Ensure there are no buried services or other voids that could collapse or be damaged under the prop load. If there are problems of any sort with the ground, you should seek advice from your structural engineer.
Check the condition of the brick work by drilling or cutting into it to ensure it is not worse than the condition set out in the design for the propping arrangement. Refer any concerns to the structural engineer before continuing.
INSTALLATION SAFETY CHECKS.
Mark the Spartan positions on the wall in accordance with the temporary support plan and not exceeding our recommended maximum 900mm spacing. The Spartan can be used immediately above the highest point of the existing or new lintel with just a few millimetres clearance. Alternatively, the Spartan tongues can be one or more courses of brick above the top of the lintel but note that masonry must not be left hanging below the Spartans – all unsupported masonry must be removed once all the props are in place. Note that the gap between the top of the new lintel and the Spartan tongue may be determined by the need for a separate cavity tray above the lintel.
Remove 170mm wide by the depth of the brick mortar from the joint, below the bricks to be supported. Use a combination of chain drilling and raking out the mortar and using a grinder or bolster/lump hammer. Always check that a flat surface has been prepared which will sit on the tongue of the Spartan. If this work is taking place above easy reach distance from the ground, you will need suitable access equipment. A tower scaffold with complete platform and edge protection is recommended.
The full slot needs to be cut right through the wall. For cavity walls this means through both leaves of masonry.
If the propping plan has props spaced at centres of 500mm or more then all slots for the opening to be worked on should be prepared at this stage. If the prop centres are less than 500mm alternate slots should be cut and props installed and loaded before the remaining slots are cut and the final props installed. This is necessary to prevent brickwork moving and closing up the slot.
Using the correct size support prop, insert the tongue of the Spartans into the masonry joint then use a hammer tap the Spartan into the brickwork to the depth of brick width before offering up the prop, using one hand to steady the support prop and the other to hold the Spartan using the built-in handle.
Carefully position the top plate of the support prop 150mm x 150mm into the flange on the Spartan saddle and position the prop vertically so that the V channel of the Spartan sits against the tube of the prop.
On firm level ground using a timber sole plate under the support prop, adjust the support prop to the desired height and using a hammer tap the Spartan to make any final sideways or insertion adjustments. Position the prop as close as possible to the face of the brickwork. If a larger clearance gap is needed you must ensure that the tip of the tongue has passed through the rear face of the masonry. During installation do not stand underneath a very tall prop – work from a tower scaffold or similar.
Ensure the support props are installed in a straight line along the face of the wall.
The support prop can now be expanded by rotating the collar until the equipment is taking the load, taking care not to over extend the prop.
Plumb the support prop using a spirit level for any final adjustments.
Check the support prop is fully hand tightened. Do not overtighten as this can deflect the Spartan tongue and bow the prop and damage the wall.
Additional supports as determined by the temporary support plan can now be installed using the same method at the centres given.
Where a line of props is used these may need to be linked by horizontal and diagonal scaffolding tubes (ie laced and braced to prevent an individual prop from moving. Your structural engineer can advise on this and any requirement should be shown on that prop plan.
Once all the Spartans and props are fully installed, aligned and tightened, the masonry below can be removed by drilling/cutting the mortar and prising out bricks/blocks/stonework. Note that disc cutters should not be used for extensive, deep horizontal cuts. This can cause the masonry to drop slightly and bind on the disc causing it to be forced out of the cut so violently that it cannot be controlled.
When sufficient masonry has been removed, install the new lintel (using new pad stones if the design requires them). Fit the cavity tray where required. Either dry pack using eg slate and then mortar in the lintel bearings and head or use mortar and retain the temporary support until fully cured. If several courses need building up above the new lintel to meet the wall above, you will need to leave a small gap around each Spartan tongue and allow all mortar to cure fully before removing the props.
Only remove the temporary supports providing a competent person has inspected the work and established that it is safe to do so.
Reduce the load on all the props by rotating the collars slowly, looking for signs of movement of the brickwork and lintel
Slowly remove the temporary supports one at a time looking for signs of movement of the brickwork and lintel by first removing the support prop and then the Spartan.
Repair the slots vacated by the Spartan to match the surrounding masonry.
Clean each Spartan and prop after use to remove all traces of mortar.
Check the equipment for signs of damage and remove damaged equipment from use. Checks should include that all sections of the equipment are straight, not dented or buckled, welds are intact and no components such as prop pins and ring collars are missing.
Store in a secure location to prevent damage, corrosion or unauthorised use.
The maximum 340kg safe working load of the traditional Strongboy is calculated from the maximum eccentricity of 215mm which is the maximum measurement from the centre line of the Acrow prop to the centre line of the cavity wall. Where the eccentricity is more than 215mm the task becomes dangerous as the safe working load is reduced to an unknown quantity.
Within the new instructions there is no mention of the maximum eccentricity of 215mm. Strangely, all measurements are taken from the end of the oversized tongue, “If” this was a correct way to measure eccentric loads it is actually safer to support a 100mm cavity wall (which is not permitted) than a 50mm cavity wall which is permitted as the measurement from the centre of the Acrow prop is actually a minimum of 25mm less eccentric than a 50mm cavity wall.
Not having maximum opening sizes and to change the instructions to suit the design of an existing product after twenty five years with no explanation or any further research or testing can not be lawful when it dangerously increases the eccentricity and reduces the S.W.L to an unknown quantity and also endorses further misuse of which causes a higher risk of collapse.