Sacred Heart Hospital Curtain Wall Replacement Partnership - Scaffolding Enclosure Makes Scaffolding More Comfortable and Safer


On April 30, 2012, OSHA, The Samuels Group, Sacred Heart Hospital, and the Wisconsin Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program signed an OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) which addresses construction industry safety and health hazards such as falls, struck-by, electrocution, caught-in between, and heat stress during replacement of the existing curtain wall of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In addition to removing the existing exterior wall or curtain and replacing it with an energy efficient curtain and windows, the project includes installing a new HVAC unit and lighting fixtures in each room.

This project has an eight story enclosed scaffold that is anchored into the wall that allows the work to progress in two rooms at a time. Scaffolding is moved as work progresses.

Success Impact:
Workers Beat the Heat as Result of Product Selection

The Samuels Group, a Wisconsin based General Contractor, looks for ways to do things more efficiently. Their approach was no different on the Curtain Wall Replacement project at Sacred Heart Hospital. Work crews are replacing the outside of the building in vertical sections, two patient rooms wide. A cost effective solution was needed for a scaffold enclosure.

Project Superintendent Mike McQuillan selected a heavy duty product for the new scaffold system after the first enclosure material showed early signs of failure. Consisting of reinforced translucent tarps fastened to the scaffold structure, the product provides better light filtering, transfers less wind noise and lasts considerably longer than the first enclosure material. The sheets are joined together with hoop and loop fasteners which eliminate flapping, reduce noise levels inside the enclosure, and make it more stable for wind loading.

The scaffold system is enclosed to protect the building interior from wind and rain during demolition. Workers noticed an added benefit…cooler temperatures inside the enclosure compared to surrounding roof temperatures. Although the atmosphere inside the enclosure is far from being considered "air conditioned," the heat index was consistently lower than on the surrounding rooftops. This allowed crews to continue to work full shifts safely during extremely hot conditions. No lost time was reported on this job due to summer's extreme heat, and no heat related injuries were reported. In fact, one contractor commented that this was the only project they did not have to shut down due to the weather.

"We can't give all the credit to the enclosure because as part of the hospital infection and dust control requirements, rooms that are under construction are negatively pressurized using air locks and exhaust fans," stated McQuillan. Typically this inside air is exhausted to outside at a loss, but due to this project's vertical arrangement, air is vented through the scaffold enclosure. "By taking advantage of this scenario, we have increased worker productivity and safety and maintained our schedule despite this summer's heat," McQuillan states. "Now we wait to see what winter has in store."

Origin: Region 5, Eau Claire Area Office
Partners: OSHA Region 5 Eau Claire Area Office, the Samuels Group, Inc., Sacred Heart Hospital, and the Wisconsin On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.
Partnership Signed: April 30, 2012