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Lend Lease uses WalkAbout access system on Liverpool Academy

12 Jun 12 A new work at height system is helping Lend Lease deliver the £24m South Liverpool Academy project more quickly and more safely.

The new building rising at the Enterprise South Liverpool Academy in Garston will provide an architecturally-inspiring home for the students who move in next year.

The £24m facility will replace the two existing schools which the Academy currently operates from.

The design of the four-storey building will make it an iconic structure for the local community, but it has posed a few challenges for main contractor Lend Lease.

Perhaps the greatest of these is the 40-metre diameter, triangular-shaped, full-height glazed atrium which dominates the interior of the new Academy.

Installing the glazed roof of the atrium would normally mean a considerable amount of time and cost expended on a temporary works structure, such as a birdcage scaffolding system.

However Lend Lease decided to weight up alternative solutions.

Brainstorming session

Jason McKnight, assistant project manager for Lend Lease, says the contractor held a “brainstorming session” with its envelope subcontractor Red Window Systems, plus temporary works installer Safety Net Services, to examine what was the best equipment to use given the time constraints of the programme.

They eventually settled on WalkAbout, a work-at-height solution created by SpanSet, which acts as a safe working platform.

“Through coordination with Safety Net Services, Red Window Systems and extensive help from our temporary works department, the concept evolved into something that would help to push progress on site,” McKnight explains. “The duration of installation halves that of scaffolding.”

WalkAbout comprises a durable mesh membrane supported by a tensioned webbing matrix that is stable and capable of achieving a high loading performance. It interfaces with a building's structure by fabric slings and/or webbing ratchet straps.

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The system features tensioned decking designed to enable workers to access awkward or remote areas at height, and due to its low deflection, to work with the ease normally associated with ground-level tasks.

Tensioning is set to pre-determined levels using webbing ratchets incorporating the patented Tension Force Indicator, a device which shows the pre-tensioning forces applied at the ratchet and at the adjustable end, in steps of 250, 500 and max 750daN.

Installed in 10 days

The WalkAbout system was fitted by installer Safety Net Services in 10 days in preference to a crash deck scaffolding system which would have taken a few weeks to erect from the ground floor up, according to McKnight.

“The duration of the atrium window installation was envisaged in being six weeks,” he says. “If we had used a scaffold system we would not have been able to work in the atrium area at all.

“The WalkAbout system has allowed us to construct the ground floor slab as well as progress other activities.”

Red Window Systems’ team of seven were trained to use and check the WalkAbout system by Safety Net Services in a series of toolbox talks.

Red’s installations manager Steve Brearley said: “We can work off the WalkAbout system safe in the knowledge the main contractor can carry on working below us.

“One day they poured the concrete slab whereas if we had had to use a scaffold system they would have had to have waited. It makes a massive difference to the programme.”

McKnight adds: “It has been an opportunity to use something which was not only new to the market but also brought our incident and injury-free philosophy into light.”

The new Enterprise South Liverpool Academy building will open in 2013.

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