There are more than enough examples out there! Fences blown over or (even worse) blown away, which in turn cause considerable damage. And not just material damage. Can fences that have been blown away also lead to accidents that affect construction workers or passers-by? As a construction company and/or site supervisor, you never want that to be on your conscience. But how can you prevent this? And what are the legal obligations that must be met when installing fences? In this blog post, we would like to draw the attention of site supervisors, buyers, and other interested parties to how to act when using and installing fences.
The first question that arises is this: Does the United States have legislation on the use of temporary fences? The answer is simple: ‘No’. Depending on the size of the fences, permanent fences must comply with wind loads as defined by law. However, there are no laws or regulations applicable to the use of temporary fencing.
A sturdy construction fence optimizes safety around the construction site.
However, it is advisable to do everything possible to prevent the construction fences from blowing away and falling over. Understand that both material damage to the surrounding areas or physical damage to construction workers or local residents will always be recovered. Of course, as a construction company, you don’t want to be in the newspapers like this; the damage to your image can be immense.
Wind-sensitivity varies per country as are strong storms along the coast.
One of the most important factors is the local situation. Is the construction site located in an open area or along the coast where the wind has free play? The United States is a wind-sensitive country and there can certainly be strong storms along the coast. Keep that in mind when choosing the fences, but also in the how you secure these fences. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a construction fence, with its narrow and open bar structure, hardly catches any wind. ‘The wind just blows through it,’ is a common remark. Nothing could be further from the truth! The mesh of the fencing combines to form a ‘dense wall’, making the fence a plaything for high-speed winds.
Think carefully about the way the fences are assembled. Regularly install temporary fencing at right angles, giving the installation extra stability. A straight continuous line is much more sensitive to the influence of the wind. This will be less applicable in urban areas, where the surroundings provide a sort of protection.
The wind load increases even more when the fences are additionally fitted with canvas panels. In this case, the canvases act as a ‘bigger kite’ and improperly secured fencing can cause major damage to people and the surrounding areas when carried away by the wind. It shows how important a correct and solid strut construction is.
Before applying a strut construction, it is important to check whether the surface is sufficiently stable and solid enough to support struts. The ground could be too soft, so struts have too little grip to stay stable, but the ground could also be so hard that you can’t dig. In both cases, it is important to look for a different solution, for example points of contact in the surrounding area.
It’s smart to make use of the knowledge of a specialized company to enhance the feeling of security.
When installing struts in the temporary fencing, a strut plate construction can be used. You can also secure the fences in the ground with ground pins, strut pipes or poles, or weight the fences down with ballast blocks. With open mobile fencing, one strut per three construction fence panels is sufficient. Each fence panel in closed temporary fencing fitted with canvas must have struts installed.
Do you work in an open area or near the coast? In that case, it is usually advisable to weigh the fences down with ballast blocks, so you are sure that nothing can happen.
It’s smart to make use of the knowledge of a specialized company to enhance the feeling of security. These people have already dealt with this kind of thing so often that they can give you customized advice on how to use the right fence and how to prevent the fences from being tossed around the area in the event of a severe storm. Because there’s one thing you certainly don’t want to happen: that late-night phone call telling you that buildings, cars, or people’s other belongings have been damaged.