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Checklist for safe

construction of formwork
BY PAUL H. SOMMERS
CHIEF ENGINEER
ALGERNON BLAIR INC.

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past


are condemned to repeat them. The 1981 World of Con crete seminar, Lessons from Formwork Fa i l u re s , will
deal not only with catastrophic collapses, but with the
costly, more numerous breakouts, bulges and misalign ments that are also serious failures in the forming process.
Here a seasoned contractor shares his checklist for safe
formworkjust one of many avenues to improved con crete construction.
afety in formwork is twofold: safe working conditions for the workmen, plus adequate design
and construction to ensure safety of the struct u re. To accomplish this re q u i res planning
ahead to establish construction methods, rates of pour
and work sequence. It re q u i res proper design of the
formwork and execution of the construction in accordance with the design. It requires prudent judgment in
the loading of the forms and placement of the conc re t e. It requires knowledge of formwork and understanding of safe form removal and reshoring practices.
When these requirements are met, a safe structure can
be built.

FORMWORK WORKING DRAWINGS


The formwork drawing is an important step to safety.
By preparing adequate working drawings, the contractor
can foresee problems, eliminate hazards on paper, and
make corrections with an eraser, not a wrecking bar. The
working drawings give the carpenter in the field a clear
picture of what is required and how to achieve it. The following checklist indicates necessary information on safe
limits of form design and sufficient detail to eliminate
onsite improvising.

4. Planned pour sequence and schedule


. Complete formwork details and dimensions, in 5cluding
pouring pocket and cleanout details
nstruction, control, and expansion joint de 6ta. ilCo
s
7. The complete plan for shoring and reshoring,
with
bracing and other details
8. Maximum shore loadings for the mudsills, and
the
assumed soil bearing values used in sill design
er/architect approval of plan for shoring
9or. Enregsihnoering,
wherever required by codes or
specifications

OVERALL SAFETY
All too often the safety of the workplace has been
overlooked. It was because of this indifference to safety
on the part of many companies that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) came into being.
While enforcement is necessary, voluntary compliance
is preferred. Listed below are some minimum requirements particularly applicable to formwork jobs.
1. Safe working areas and safe passageways provid ed
to and from the work areasthis means: safe
working scaffolds, ladders, runways, ramps and
crossings
good housekeeping maintained
2.t0 Continuous
keep the work areas and passages safe

3. All exposed perimeter edges and all floor


openings
and strengths of materials to be used in the
f1.ormTypes
guarded
work
4. Amount of work space for each worker checke
2. Construction loads for which the formwork is de for adequacy without crowding
signed, including permissible concentrated form
loads, if any

3. Limits on rate of pour and concrete temperature

5. Safety training provided for foremen and sub


fomen,
and safety orientation for unskilled workers
or new employees

Safety practices of skilled workers or longtime emwall ties checked for proper strength, spacing
p6.loyees
5.andAlllength
reexamined
made to keep new or unskilled
7.woProvisions
rkmen away from potential danger spots

Resistance provided against uplift for top forms


6.with
sloping faces

personal safety equipment provided


8.forAdequate
all workers

checked for proper spacing, with joints


7.staWales
ggered from one tier to the next

.Safe power tools provided, and safety features


9rechecked
as part of routine maintenance

8. In double-member wales, one member left con tinuous


across form ties at splices

10. Safe temporary electrical power cables and out


lets
installed in accordance with OSHA and local

lap provided between forms and previ 9.ousAdequate


construction, and any connecting hardware

requirements

carefully secured

Rate of pour not to exceed that shown on work 10.


Fo rm w o rk rigging inserts or connections
11.
ing
drawings
checked to be sure they are correctly installed, and
rigging periodically reexamined for wear and correct
Experienced form watchers at work during the
11.
positioning
concrete placement
All loose hanging forms removed during strip 12.
12. Care in vibrating when penetrating an earlier lift
ping operations
SUPPORTED FORMS AND SHORING
All loose material stored on open upper floors
13.
Construction in accordance with the working drawtied down or otherwise secured
Exposed nails from all stripped lumber removed
14.
or bent
15. Exposed form ties projecting into the work area
bent
or removed
16. Toward the end of the day, additional inspection
and
supervision of work performed, to counteract
carelessness due to fatigue

ings is as imperative as it is for all other formwork. Because beam and slab forms carry a heavy load of concrete on slender supports one or more stories high, they
are potentially unstable and vulnerable to accidents if
proper procedures are not followed. Note the heavy emphasis on bracing in the following list.
of mud sill sizes for shore loads and
1.beSuitability
aring value of soil; working drawings checked for
guidance

Watch maintained at all times for fires in form 17.


firmly compacted under mud sills and prop 2.er Soil
work, but especially at the close of the work day
drainage provided to prevent ponding of water in
18. Above all inspection to see that the forming systhe area
tem
is complete in all details before placing concrete
if unstable, removed and replaced with sta b3.ilSoil,
ized material under the sills; mudsills not sup-

WALL FORM SAFETY

Wall forms should be constructed in accordance with


the working drawings, with thoughtful attention given to
the points listed below.
1. Lateral bracing provided as shown on the drawings, firmly attached to the forms and to points of
support

ported on frozen ground


level slab completed wherever possible
b4.eGround
fore shoring is erected for supported slabs
5. Individual shores laced both ways with continu ous
runners, and shoring system braced laterally

Timber shoring checked to see that it is sound,


Blockouts braced to resist vertical and lateral
6.properly
2.loads;
sized, plumb and not butt spliced; hardbulkheads braced to resist lateral pressure
and spreading of walls
Offsets, pilasters, edge forms and single-faced
3.forms
checked to see that they are adequately tied
and braced

i4.ngExterior corners of forms tied to prevent spread-

wood wedges checked to see that they are tight and


safety nailed to prevent slippage from vibration

of patented clamps on adjustable wood


s7.hProvision
ores; clamps firmly locked into place and safety
nailed; direction of splice alternated for greater stability
from damage of tubular welded frame
s8.hoFreedom
ring; pins installed and fully braced

Special bracing provided for tall tubular welded


f9.rame
shoring
Proper bearing provided for stringers and joists
at10.points
of support
Ledgers or stringers either firmly attached to
11.
shores or bridged to prevent ove rt u rning from lateral forces
Deep joists laterally braced to prevent overturn i12.
ng
On sloping slab or beam forms, extra bracing
13.
added to resist lateral forces
On supported forms, localized concentrated
14.
loads prevented unless forms were specifically designed for such loads
Columns poured at least one day ahead of slabs
15.
for added lateral stability
Pour sequence schedule shown on formwork
16.
drawings followed to prevent eccentric loadings
High drops from concrete buckets pre ve n t e d ,
17.
and ponding of concrete on supported forms prohibited
18. Sudden starts or stops with powered concrete
buggies
avoided
Concrete slabs allowed adequate time to develop
19.
strength before removal of shores or reshores (Temperature and admixtures also have an important effect on strength development.)
Reshores fitted firmly in accordance with work 20.
ing drawings, but not wedged so tight as to preload
the floor
21. No construction loads placed on new construc tion
while reshoring is in progress

Editors note:
The foregoing check list is part of a report developed by the
author for presentation at the recent ACI Formwork and
Shoring Conference. The complete text has been submitted
to the American Concrete Institute for publication.

PUBLICATION#C810111
Copyright 1981, The Aberdeen Group
All rights reserved