Not using trained operatives to install scaffold shrink wrap sheeting
Whilst traditional style scaffold sheeting products can be installed by most scaffolders without a problem, scaffold shrink wrapping, despite not being ‘rocket science’ is a specialised trade which requires some training and experience to be carried out safely to a high standard.
For example, shrink wrap sheeting requires the use of a shrink wrapping hot air tool, which is used to create welded / sealed joints between sheets of scaffold wrap and of course, to heat shrink the cladding and achieve that signature ‘drum tight’ / wrinkle free appearance which is unique to shrink wrap cladding. The shrink wrapping hot air tool or ‘gun’ is a powerful tool, which uses propane gas and so an understanding of it’s safe operation is essential.
What is the impact of this problem?
There are a number of problems connected with inexperienced operatives installing shrink wrap sheeting
One of the key skills to master when shrink wrapping is how to create a welded joint between two pieces of shrink wrap. Using the hand held shrink wrapping heat gun, the trick is to direct the hot air between the two pieces of shrink wrap film that you wish to join until they reach their melt point. The heat is removed and the two pieces of film are pressed together using a gloved hand so that they stick. Inexperienced users will tend to use insufficient heat so that the shrink wrap is not joined properly. Alternatively, an untrained installer may use too much heat and burn holes in the shrink wrap sheet.
Either way, if sheets of scaffold wrap are not joined properly the weld will be weak and may leak or not provide proper containment of dust and debris.
Another key skill involved in the encapsulation and containment of construction projects using shrink wrap is to shrink the film ‘drum tight’. Once again, the problem centres on operatives not using enough heat (wrinkles and creases remain in the sheeting and it is not drum tight) or too much heat (holes appear in the shrink wrap sheeting which need patching with more shrink wrap or shrink wrapping tape).
What is the impact of this problem?
Hopefully, the only impact of not using a trained & experienced installation team is that the sheeting looks a bit ‘rough around the edges’ but still achieves it’s purpose. However, poor quality welds and poor quality shrinking may lead to the scaffold sheeting detaching during windy conditions.
How to minimise the effect of this problem?
The best way to avoid this problem is to plan ahead and do your homework. If you are looking for a fully installed shrink wrap service, you might want to check out this article; ‘Which scaffold wrap installer is best for my project?’ which explores some of the criteria for choosing an installer and looks at the main companies in the UK providing a shrink wrap contractor service.
Alternatively if you are looking to buy the materials and equipment and carry out the work you might want further information on the skills involved you might want to read another article; ‘How do I shrink wrap a scaffolding?’
Alternatively, if you are looking to install the scaffold shrink wrap yourself to using your own teams you might want to check out this article; ‘What scaffold shrink wrap materials & equipment do I need?’
Although these articles explore shrink wrap training in more detail, in terms of minimising the effect of the problem I would advise finding a company who can provide you with training and then provide you with a trainer or experienced operatives to accompany your team on their first job.