We know that we are in the middle of a UK crisis following the Grenfell Tower fire, the cladding crisis. But what may not be common knowledge is that the resolution to this crisis (the cladding remediation of thousands of our residential tower blocks), may be putting tens of thousands of residents through unnecessary hardship due to the way in which these buildings are accessed.
Over the past few weeks we have been privy to multiple accounts of cladding remediation projects being undertaken with absolutely no regard for the residents well-being. One blog titled “There’s no way human beings should have to live like this” – The reality of life behind scaffolding, published by BFT Mastclimbing interviewed and resident of a building undergoing a cladding remediation project, and sums up the issues well.
It appears that construction companies are working on the basis that replacing flammable cladding is making the building safe, and therefore whatever the project involves is worth it! Now we can understand this may be an easy point of view to take, but it simply does not need to be this way. If you consider the point of view of the resident, they have just been informed that their home has the same or similar cladding to that which caused the Grenfell tower disaster and as a result they are quite rightly devastated – for a number of reasons. They are then (some months later) subjected to a wall of plastic being erected around their building in the form of scaffolding, to allow the cladding remediation works to take place. Depending on the size of the building, this may mean years of darkness, noise, and a feeling of insecurity in your own home, on top of the now constant threat of fire.
Given that the ongoing cladding remediation work across the country is a critical issue that affects thousands of residents living in these high and mid-rise buildings, we at Intelligent FS believe it is imperative that contractors and the government prioritize the health, safety, and wellbeing of the residents and minimize the disruption caused to their everyday life.
As a specialist cladding remediation company our number one priority is to minimize disruption to residents while still completing the cladding remediation project safely and in line with our clients requirements. It’s important to keep the needs and concerns of residents at the forefront of all decision-making, and to work closely with them to find solutions that minimize the impact of the project on their daily lives. And there are so many factors we can introduce to support this, including Scheduling, Communication, Noise Control, Dust and Debris Control, appropriate Waste Management and of course Access Equipment.
It is vitally important that we, as responsible contractors don’t sleepwalk into using scaffolding as the answer to every access scenario. For instance, mast climbers are designed to be installed quickly and efficiently, taking up less space on ground, reducing the time any individual resident is disrupted and helping to speed up the project timeline as a whole and often proving more cost effective. Mast climbers can also offer unrestricted access to the building façade, allowing workers to reach all areas of the building quickly and easily. Plus, with all their many safety features, such as fall arrest systems and automatic brakes, mast climbers can provide a safer working environment for workers.
Conversely, mast climbers do require a power supply whereas scaffold does not and although there is a typical weight limit up to 5 tonne, this is usually more than sufficient for most projects. The biggest challenge is one of perception; that a mast climber may not be suitable for many of the more complex designed buildings. However when you consider the customisable elements available, such as bespoke decks and drop-down steps, many more buildings can make use of the benefits of mast climbers.
Intelligent FS understands the importance of all these issues and takes a proactive approach to minimize resident disruption during cladding remediation works. This means an innovative approach to access and all parts of the project, including the use of mast climbers, privacy film, and high levels of communication and transparency to ensure that the residents are informed and involved throughout the entire process.
We have found that by using mast climbers as much as possible, we can reduce the amount of scaffolding required, minimising the visual impact and freeing up the communal areas and on-street parking. The privacy film ensures residents have their privacy maintained, even when work is ongoing outside their windows and by prioritising communication and transparency throughout the entire process, we ensure residents are informed of the progress and any potential disruptions. This helps to mitigate any confusion and frustration, and it helps to build trust between the contractors and the residents.
We believe it’s crucial that the contractors and the government take the necessary steps to minimize the disruption caused to residents during cladding remediation works. Intelligent FS’s approach, which emphasizes the use of mast climbers, privacy film, and high levels of communication and transparency, provides a model that other contractors can follow to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents during these critical projects.