MASONRY WALL PROPPING GUIDE
(PLEASE READ IN FULL)
“All tasks of masonry alterations are different and should be safely planned upon their own merit when using a variety of temporary masonry support equipment most suitable”
The main cause of collapse during masonry alterations is overloading due to underestimating the weight of the load and by removing Strongboy’s further from the wall to avoid internal 1st floor wall damage upon finished rooms and/or attempting to gain more fitting work space, as over extending an eccentrically loaded Acrow prop dangerously decreases the safe working load to an unknown level.
(A correctly fitted Strongboy where maintaining the max 340Kg S.W.L )
The Maximum Safe Working Loads
A plumb & concentrically loaded Acrow prop (load bearing from head plate to foot plate), 3,400Kg.
An Acrow prop used within the props and needles method and allowing a maximum 25mm eccentricity from the centre line of the Acrow to the centre of the needle, 1,700Kg.
When fitted with a Strongboy or any other similar designed product an Acrow props safe working load decreases 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.
Without warning a Strongboy dangerously misuses the Acrow prop due to the severe eccentricity of the load and because the web of the Strongboy changes the direction of the load onto the side of the Acrow props inner tube of which is designed only for vertical loads from the head plate down to the foot plate.
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 manner even though no warning of this is in place.
It’s not possible for a Strongboy or any other similar designed product to give the correct fitting work access for every task without dangerously overloading itself, the Brick Brace should also be used to prevent collapse when eccentrically propping with Acrows.
We do not endorse the misuse of any temporary support equipment however anyone that continues to overload Strongboy’s through over extending from the wall, we highly recommend bracing the masonry beforehand to increase the unpredictable lateral strength of the masonry of which all existing propping methods rely upon.
To maintain the maximum 340kg safe working load, the tongue of a Strongboy must fully penetrate the internal skin when supporting a cavity wall, as seen in the drawing below.
When the Acrow prop is removed from the wall to avoid internal wall damage or to gain more fitting work space, the safe working load reduces to an unknown quantity and is not safe.
For the web of the Strongboy not to impede the fitting space the tongue is to be fitted at least 215mm (three brick courses) above a proposed finished lintel height, any masonry below the tongue is not supported safely, as also seen in the above drawing.
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 correct use, the safe working load is severely reduced when the tongue bends and should be avoided as there are now safer options available.
The misleading theory behind the Strongboy is to use fewer Acrow props and to reduce masonry damage and is marketed within that manner, which certainly is not the case 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 wall or a 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 safe working load of a Strongboy can not be calculated safely due to an accumulation of different factors including; the size & the working height of the Acrow prop used, how plumb, how tightly fitted, how far the Acrow prop is positioned from the centre of the wall, how much fitting access is required & the unpredictable lateral strength of the existing masonry.
The Missing Link To Safer & Superior Results
The Brick Brace should also be used as a safety belt when eccentrically propping with Acrow’s to;
A, reduce risk from a dangerous task.
B, to prevent overloading by reducing the weight of the load.
C, to strengthen the unknown lateral strength of the masonry for further stability.
D, to safely minimise the number of impeding Acrow props within the fitting area.
E, to hold the brickwork in-between props and to also support the masonry as one whole piece rather than individual bricks as in the case of only using existing propping methods.
F, to safely minimse lost masonry and to reduce labour & repair time.
G, to offer your client a superior finish with safer results.
“We created the Brick Brace to counter act all of the hidden problems of eccentrically propping masonry, to help, teach and influence the majority to change their bad habits, to prevent the same needless reoccurring accidents and to ensure future generations are taught safely & correctly”.
EVERY TASK IS 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, three or even more? Is the opening in the outer or the 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 is the condition of the internal wall? Is the internal wall plastered or dry-lined or bare masonry as in the case of the majority of total refurbishments? Are there any signs of movement, e.g. cracking?
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 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 steel/s are specified or most suitable? What are the length, depth, width, thickness and weight of the permanent support/s? Is the permanent support/s deeper than existing floor joist depth?
How will the new permanent support be fed into position and how will any old lintels be removed? Which equipment or variety of temporary support equipment is designed to support the masonry correctly and also provides sufficient fitting work access without dangerously over extending and overloading itself?
The More Methods Known, The Safer & Easier The Different Tasks Become!
Temporary support equipment options in alphabetical order; Acrow props, Brick Brace, Needles, Prop-Wise and Strongboy’s.
Using the Brick Brace in-conjunction with the traditional propping methods reduces labour & repair time without cutting corners or compromising safety, supports the masonry in between props and also improves the unknown variable safe working load of 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 Brick Brace counter acts all of the hidden problems of only propping masonry.
A variety of hammers, trowels and saws are used for different tasks so why not use a variety of temporary support equipment most suitable?
The Prop-Wise is designed to use the head plate of the Acrow prop and not the side of the Acrow props inner tube as in the case of a Strongboy and similar designed products.
Designed with a flat head to ease internal use at ceiling heights and fits neatly into a tool bag.
Using fewer Acrow props due to reduced eccentricity which also gives a superior safe working load.
Maximum safe working load 500kg, supplied with full instructions and Acrow prop guidance and is by far the safest tongued prop attachment on the market.
A full 360 degree turn of the adjustable collar raises the working height of an Acrow prop by 8mm, jacking or over tightening can dangerously overload an Acrow prop especially when eccentrically propping with a Strongboy as the distance from the 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 inner tube of an Acrow prop, it should not exit the outer tube 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 weak lateral strength.
When working upon load bearing walls, plumb and concentrically loaded Acrow props should always 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 unknown and further dynamic loads.
To reduce live 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 everyone around you.
THE STRONGBOY INSTRUCTIONS WERE CHANGED IN NOV’ 2015
And now start with;
Prior to using any Strongboy masonry support, you should identify that this is a suitable method to carry out the intended works.
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 COINCIDING NEW 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 increase the risk of the user to overload and to underestimate the weight of the load and has also suppressed the true level of knowledge that is required to safely tackle the many different tasks of masonry alterations.
9″ brickwork can weigh over 600kg per square metre, (120 bricks plus mortar) which would require at least five Strongboy’s per linear metre (at 167mm centre’s) on a larger opening on a typical two storey residential property which could weigh 1,440kg per linear metre without roof loads and making the use of Strongboy’s unsuitable for the 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 now doubled to 100mm and even up to 150mm upon new properties and with open plan living accommodation increasing the opening sizes within a typical residential extension.
Attempting tasks which require wider steels with welded top or bottom plates for large cavities and still only using Strongboy’s is where more problems of overloading arise.
The new instructions (updated Nov’ 2015) strangely suggest that propping an older style 9″ wall by over 390mm 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 quantity and when to avoid collapse the Strongboy is totally dependent on the unpredictable & unknown lateral strength of the weaker lime mortar masonry.
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 required depth.
To change rules and instructions of a product can not be lawful when they dangerously reduce the S.W.L to an unknown quantity and endorses further misuse of which creates a higher risk of collapse.
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 their inability to address the issues without accepting the responsibility of the fault of which they have helped to create due to allowing misleading Strongboy instructions for over thirty years and accepting test results which do not reflect site conditions, as clearly seen in the advertised test drawing below.
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 correct instructions of use or proper tests are required and when the H.S.E do not police the problem in a safe & correct manner.
Through our own professional research, we have uncovered that no temporary masonry support equipment is safe to use unless it is sold/hired with written guidance as this reduces assumptions of correct use and is why we provide full instructions and a correct procedure with every product we sell.
What Competent Structural Engineers Say!
Confidential Reporting On Structural Safety.
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.
Structural Engineers Cambridge Ltd
(Taken from their website)
This is one of the most tricky parts of our job, as one of the most hazardous times in the construction or alteration of a building is when the works are in progress.
As consulting engineers, our brief is normally to design the permanent parts of the structure, and in the traditional contract model the contractor is responsible for the design and execution of the Temporary Works. Thus, the conscientious contractor would employ his own consultant to provide him with the necessary design.
The Building Inspectors are also only responsible for ensuring that the permanent works are carried out in accordance with the specification, so unless the temporary works are an immediate risk to life and limb they are not empowered to enforce a particular method.
Regrettably, in domestic projects the builders are too often inexperienced or unaware of the correct practice for supporting walls and other parts of a building. I am often appalled when I visit a site to see the back wall of a house knocked out to receive a lintel, with no props supporting the masonry but plenty of Acrow props beneath the first floor. As the wall comprises the majority of the load, this is clearly not right!
The argument is often put that the wall will somehow “arch” over the opening, and in some cases, with smaller openings, it does. However, as current projects demand ever larger opening widths, the ability to arch is eliminated by the lack of restraining walls either side, and the effect of window openings in the storey above.
So, if the props are only placed beneath the first floor, the wall can only be supported by resting on the ends of the floor joists. In practice, most joists have a gap above them due to shrinkage as the timber dries out, so the floor will either be jacked up or the load is transferred into the skirting board. In older houses, these are attached to the wall with cut brad nails every 18″ or so; in newer houses they may be screwed or stuck on with “No Nails”. As a storey height of 9″ thick brickwork weighs over a tonne per metre run, there is no way this could be considered safe!
Needle Beams and Props
The “textbook” method for supporting a wall is to punch holes in the wall every 90 to 120cm and insert needle beams through the wall. The ends of the needles are propped, leaving a working space beneath for inserting the lintel. This is reliable and robust, however the common objection to this method is the disruption to the rooms above (one of which is inevitably a fitted bathroom!) and the need to repair the holes afterwards. This has to be the preferred method for the majority of projects, however.
A common method in small projects is to use “Strongboy” heads. These are fabricated steel fittings that fit over the top plate of an Acrow prop to give a projecting spade-like blade. This is inserted into a slot cut into the bed joint of a masonry wall, so that the wall can be supported while the prop does not have to be directly below the wall.
The convenience of this method is undeniable, but due to the limited load capacity of these devices their safety is too often overestimated or taken for granted. The manufacturer’s stated load capacity is 340kg, which amounts to about one square metre of brick and block cavity wall. This means that you would need supports every 450mm to avoid overloading the Strongboy heads. For solid 9″ brickwork, the supports would need to be virtually touching each other!
In practice, the supports are normally spaced at one metre intervals, and the props are overloaded, causing cracking to the supported wall and bending the blades of the Strongboy heads. I have experienced several cases where unwitting builders have caused extensive damage using this method, and I believe that insufficient information on their proper use is provided when they are purchased or hired.
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.
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 attachment heads 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 also 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 Strongboy 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.
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).
Superior Instructions Of A Similar Designed Product
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.
Construction, Design and Management 2015, in force since the 6th April 2015 and is British legislation.
(Temporary Works in Brief)
The builder (contractor) needs to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge and capable of avoiding risks and able to combat risks at source.
Adapt to individual requirements, especially regarding the design of the workplace, the choice of work equipment and the choice of working and production methods with a view in particular to reduce the effect of risk on health and on safety. Adapt to technical progress, replace the dangerous by the non-dangerous or the less dangerous.
(Stability of structures)
All practicable steps must be taken to prevent danger and ensure that any new or existing structure does not collapse or become unstable due to the carrying out of construction work.
Temporary support must be designed, installed and maintained to withstand foreseeable loads and only used for the purposes for which it was designed for. A structure must not be loaded as to render it unsafe to any person.
Work within health and safety guidelines; respect your legal responsibilities and the welfare of others around you.
No Progress Without Change!
We recently asked the institute of structural engineers;
“How is it possible for a 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 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 temporary works forum, HAE, CITB and 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 they’re not suitable for a task and not providing correct procedures in writing to the paying contractor and also allowing misleading instructions is far from a science or an art form, only dangerous & incompetent.
The values of The Institution Of Structural Engineers
We endeavour to ensure that our members are highly skilled and work to the highest level by maintaining a commitment to professional standards within structural engineering.
We strive for continued technical excellence; advancing safety and innovation across the built environment.