May 16, 2020

Top Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Construction Site

First Fence
Site
Facilities
First Fence
3 min
Tips for site management, told by First Fence
Construction sites closing over winter is something that happens a lot less now with improved building techniques and higher-quality products. However...

Construction sites closing over winter is something that happens a lot less now with improved building techniques and higher-quality products. However, there are still differences between winter and summer and with spring now under way, it is worth looking at your construction site and analysing how to improve it. 

In this piece, UK fencing industry experts First Fence offer their top tips for giving your construction site the spring clean it needs.  

1) Organise Your Site Materials  

This may seem very basic, but it can often be neglected in the winter months. The process of meticulously organising your site becomes a lot less appealing when temperatures drop, and the darkness closes early. Therefore, spring offers a great opportunity for you to really get on top of your site’s organisation. Any excess materials or bulk materials you have on site should be properly organised and stored in safe and secure areas of your site. 

Poorly stored materials can cause potential damage to your project or team members by blocking access routes or falling over. Store materials like plastic, metal and wood in their relevant categories and make sure all drums or containers with hazardous materials are tightly sealed to reduce spillage, contamination and waste.  

2) Tools & Equipment Inspection 

Keeping on top of your tools and equipment is extremely important for your building site. Routine inspections can spot potential problems early, reducing the risk of a large and unexpected financial outlay when replacing your equipment or a potential on site accident from faulty machinery. Encouraging employees to take an active role in maintaining, inspecting and caring for the site that they work on will increase productivity and quality of work.   

Maintenance tasks are potentially dangerous so ensure your employees are fully trained and constantly aware of the dangers around them when carrying out these tasks. Whether you are inspecting a small cordless drill or a large excavator, it all impacts your employees’ safety and the organisation and productivity of your site. 

3) Safely Dispose of Your Waste Materials 

Waste materials, recycling and our responsibility for them has never been more prominent or pressing than it is today. It is therefore essential that your construction site takes all necessary steps to become as eco-friendly and green as possible. Dispose of your waste through the correct channels and if you want to process your own waste you must register as a waste carrier and potentially get a waste permit. Ensure all used containers and dumpsters are locked and secured after you use them. 

4) Define Clear Access Routes  

With the increased number of deliveries, production is full steam ahead, so it is essential you take the time to clear and set out your site’s access routes. This can be a struggle during the winter months. Perhaps the road leading to your site is isolated, troubled with thick snowfall and icy roads. Or maybe heavy rainfall leaves your access routes prone to waterlogging, slippery surfaces or potential flooding. 

There are few excuses over spring and it really is something you should be being proactive about. Not clearing access routes has the potential to cost you in missed or delayed deliveries and more importantly means your site is not safe for your workers. 

Final Thoughts 

The turn of spring is a great opportunity for you to take control of your site and give it the refresh it needs heading into the warmer months. A full spring clean has many benefits and will help improve your employees’ safety and increase your site’s productivity.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Construction_in_Toronto_May_2012.jpg 

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Vibrations
Engineering
design
Structuralintegrity
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
     
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
     
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
     
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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