Formwork, in its essence, is a form or framework that is used to shape wet concrete. However, planning a formwork can be a more complex process than it seems.
When designing a formwork plan, the construction engineer needs to consider many factors such as the size of the building, type of material being poured (wet or dry), pouring method (vertical or horizontal), span widths, the height of columns, column spacing, and many more.
This blog post will cover the seven things you should know about designing, erection, using, and stripping the formwork as integral aspects of any construction project.
As a construction professional, you need to know the formwork plans from the inside out before starting any building work.
Specifically, you need to know these seven essential aspects of every formwork plan:
1. The design and type of the formwork
2. How formwork frames should be erected
3. What are formwork false decks and when to use them
4. Fall protection measures and ensuring workers’ safety
5. Pre-loading inspections and clearance to load
6. Monitoring the formwork assembly
7. Stripping the framework in a systematic manner
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.
The formwork design should be done by an experienced formwork designer who is well-informed about the latest trends in the formwork construction industry and regulatory requirements.
The professional formwork designer (or engineer) needs to discuss with other professionals before finalizing any design for formwork to ensure maximum safety.
Also, the formwork designer should provide detailed documentation about the work platforms and special equipment that should be used in the on-site formwork construction.
The design of the formwork should be:
– In accordance with regulatory requirements
– Appropriate for safety, durability, and functionality
– Compliant to the standards of the formwork construction industry
– Waterproof, firm, and braced to maintain concrete shape and position
– Easy to remove without damaging the concrete or structure
The types of the formworks can be:
– Traditional (made of timber or plywood) – designed on-site
– Modular (made of lightweight plastics, steel, or aluminum) – designed off-site
Formwork frames should be erected in a progressive way that ensures the safety of workers and the stability of the structure.
Before starting any work, you need to ensure that all necessary equipment is available on-site. Usually, you may need to have lifting equipment such as slings and hoists for easy handling and lifting the formwork components.
The framing should be erected carefully and safely by trained professionals in accordance with the design documentation.
Formwork false decks (or falsework) can be used on large projects to provide temporary support, designed to support a load until the structure can sustain itself.
These decks consist of scaffold planks that should be placed inside and between formwork frames.
The false decks are usually used on new builds with higher formwork decks of over 2 meters to support the anticipated load of workers and materials during the construction phase.
Falsework and formwork both play an essential role in the construction, ensuring that the finished product’s architectural design and structural integrity are properly maintained.
Fall protection measures should be taken seriously since they protect workers from injuries during construction work.
The fall protection plan should provide safe access for the workers on-site and sufficient support to prevent any accidents.
Safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, helmets, or face shields must always be used when the formwork is erected or removed.
Also, depending on the complexity of the formwork design, the fall protection measures can include straightforward edge protection or advanced perimeter containment screens that prevent people and objects from falling outside the working area.
Pre-loading inspections should be conducted before any load can take place in order to ensure that there is no damage or cracking on the formwork planks.
Clearance to load must also be given by a competent person (certifying construction engineer) who will ensure that the framework abides by the design specifications and it’s structurally safe to load the concrete.
The formwork assembly process should be monitored by qualified personnel (designated observers) to avoid any delays or mistakes that could affect the structural integrity of the construction project.
The competent observer should closely monitor the concrete placement and act quickly in case of emergency repairs. In case of emergency repairs or adjustments, the observer should interrupt the concrete loading process.
The stripping operation is the final phase of the formwork process that needs to be carried out in a systematic manner while taking into consideration all risks of damage.
Some of the risks can include:
– Carefully remove the nails from the components (before stacking them)
– Avoid dropping the formwork components from heights
– Ensuring proper lighting in the work area
– Eliminating tripping hazards
In this phase, the formwork as a support system is removed gradually to a ground level, and the formwork process is done.
Today we talked about the seven crucial aspects of the formwork planning process you should have in mind when designing a successful construction project.
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