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Job safety for workers, such as for high-steel construction workers engaged in assembling the steel beams and columns in a plural-story building frame, is an ongoing, major concern. It is to a particular aspect of this concern that the present invention addresses attention.
As the assembly of such a plural-story, steel, column-and-beam frame progresses, it is critical that there be provided an effective lateral guard-rail-type system to protect frameworkers against a fall from high-elevation locations of dangerous lateral exposure. Such locations typically exist adjacent the edges of laterally exposed floor expanses, which edges are most usually, though not always, disposed along the outer sides of an emerging building frame, but can, of course, exist anywhere within the overall footprint of such a frame.
Such a guard-rail system, referred to herein as a safety-barrier system, should be robust and highly reliable, while at the same time being relatively simple and inexpensive, easy to install with a minimum of work effort and time, and readily and very easily removable when no longer needed. Preferably, with regard to removeability, such a system should be permissive of staged, sequential removal from regions no longer requiring special lateral protection, without such staged removal compromising the security of remaining portions of the system.
A preferred and best-mode embodiment of the present invention, and a modified form thereof, are disclosed herein in the context just described, i.e., in the context of a building-frame assembly project of the type just generally outlined above. These embodiments of the invention fully and uniquely address all of the safety, reliability, simplicity, cost-savings, and staged-removeability considerations mentioned so far herein.
More particularly, the safety-barrier system of the present invention takes the form of a cable system useable along an elevated region of lateral exposure in a building structure of the type having plural, spaced, laterally next-adjacent uprights (typically columns) distributed along the exposure region. This system, when in an operative condition, includes: (a) plural cable-threading brackets distributed along the exposure region, and anchored, at least one each, to each of such uprights; (b) an elongate cable having ends and a long axis, operatively threaded substantially as a continuum between its ends, with a different elongate portion of the cable extending through each of the mentioned brackets; and (c), disposed adjacent each bracket, an associated securing device, such as a clamp or a wedge, functionally locked to the associated, elongate portion of the cable, inhibiting any appreciable motion of that cable portion generally along the cable's long axis relative to the associated bracket.
In this system, and disposed intermediate the next-adjacent, mentioned “elongate portions”, the cable possesses pairs of next-adjacent, spaced reaches, also called segments, that extend, with respect to each pair of these reaches, in opposite directions relative to, and away from, an associated, intermediate, elongate cable portion and securing device, with each bracket and associated securing device being designed to collaborate to create a structural strain-relief condition relative to the paired cable reaches that extend oppositely away from the relevant, associated securing device.
With respect to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the mentioned uprights take the form of columns distributed in a building frame structure.
As will be seen from the detailed description of the invention which follows below, it is a relatively easy matter to thread an elongate cable through the mentioned brackets, and thereby to “divide” the cable into segments (“spaced reaches”) extending between next-adjacent columns, with opposite ends of each segment suitably locked against axial longitudinal motion relative to the brackets through which the cable is threaded. When a segment of cable is no longer needed to provide lateral safety protection, and because of the mentioned, important strain-relief condition which exists in the system of the invention, that segment may simply be cut away adjacent its opposite ends in a manner which does not compromise the protection capabilities of its two next-adjacent cable-segment neighbors.
When no part of the system is any longer needed to furnish lateral safety, all cable lengths and securing devices may easily be removed. The cable-threading brackets, if such are welded, as is preferable, to the sides of columns in a frame, may be left in place.
These and other objects and features of the invention, and its advantages, will now become more fully apparent as the detailed description thereof which follows below is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary, isometric, schematic illustration of an under-construction, plural-story, steel building frame including interconnected columns and beams utilizing a preferred and best-mode embodiment of the safety-barrier system of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged, fragmentary side-elevation detail showing, in two different conditions (solid-line and phantom line), components in the safety-barrier system of FIG. 1. This view is taken generally adjacent the right side of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view taken generally along the line of 3-3 in FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary elevation, presented in a larger scale than that employed in FIGS. 2 and 3, illustrating a modified form of the invention.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view taken generally along the line 5-5 in FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view taken generally along the line 6-6 in FIG. 4.
Turning attention now to the drawings, and referring first of all to FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, indicated generally at 10 in FIG. 1 is an under-construction, plural-story steel building frame which is formed by an assembly of laterally-spaced, upright columns, such as the three, next-adjacent columns shown at 12, 14, 16, interconnected at nodal connections, such as those shown at 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, by plural, elongate, generally horizontally extending beams, such as those shown at 30, 32, 34, 36. The columns in frame 10 are also referred to herein as uprights.
An outside corner in frame 10 is shown generally at 10A, and two orthogonally intersecting, lateral, outer sides of frame 10 are shown at 10B, 10C. The specific columns, nodal connections and interconnecting beams referred to above are seen to occupy a portion of frame lateral side 10C.
The rectangular spaces bounded by next-adjacent columns and beams may be referred to as being building panes which, ultimately, will be surface-skinned, such as by panels of various different characters, or other similar structures, like the very simple rectangular panel shown generally at 38 in FIG. 1. Panel 38 plays no role in the structure of the invention, and is simply shown herein to help describe later how portions of the system of the present invention may be removed when no longer needed.
As was mentioned, frame 10 is a plural-story frame, and the portion of this frame which is illustrated in FIG. 1 is a portion of the frame which is disposed appreciably above ground level (not shown). As a consequence, the lateral side regions 10B, 10C pictured in FIG. 1 are referred to herein as being regions of lateral exposure with respect to which some form of lateral safety-barrier system must be employed to protect workers against falls. For example, shown very fragmentarily at 40 in FIG. 1 is a portion of a plane which represents a story-floor plane, or even a preliminary floor, which will exist within frame 10 at a suitable point in time during construction. It will be on this floor plane that workers will move for a time during building construction, and specifically for a time before lateral skin panels, such as panel 38 (or the like), are protectably in place along the raised-elevation exposed lateral regions within frame 10.
With respect to, and included in, the portion of building frame 10 which is shown in FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, and indicated generally at 42 (see particularly FIG. 1), is a portion of a cable safety-barrier system constructed in accordance with a preferred and best-mode embodiment of the present invention. Regarding the portion of system 42 which is illustrated in these figures, the components therein, now to be described, are positioned in the frame, effectively anchored to regions along the outer sides of the upright columns, at what is referred to herein as a substantially common elevation above the ground. This common elevation is pictured in FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, by a dash-dot line 44. As will shortly be mentioned, line 44 in the drawings is employed also to represent a cable axis associated with system 42.
In general terms, system 42 includes an elongate preferably steel cable 46 which is threaded as a continuum through cable-threading brackets such as those shown at 48, 50, 52 in these figures. In FIG. 1, brackets 48, 50, 52 are represented by large black dots. In FIGS. 2 and 3, these brackets are shown in their realistic form. Brackets 48, 50, 52 are anchored, as will shortly be described, at common elevation 44, to the outer sides of columns 12, 14, 16, respectively, and at the locations generally as shown above floor plane 40 in FIG. 1.
In system 42, cable 46 is divided, or segmented, because of the nature of system 42 as will become apparent, into plural, next-adjacent, inter-column segments (or cable reaches), such as those shown generally at 46(1), 46(2), 46(3). Lying intermediate these next-adjacent cable segments, and specifically passing directly through the previously mentioned brackets, are what are referred to herein as elongate cable portions, such as those shown at 46a, 46b which extend through brackets 50, 52, respectively, and which are anchored substantially against motion within these brackets by securing devices in the form of clamps, such as clamps 54, 56 shown attached, as will explained shortly, to cable portions 46a, 46b, respectively. Clamps 54, 56, in the structure and operation of system 42, effectively prevent relative motion of their associated cable portions 46a, 46b, respectively, along their long axes which are coincident with the long axis of cable 46. This cable-46 long axis is coincident with previously mentioned dash-dot line 44, and accordingly, line 44, as was just mentioned above, functions herein also to represent this axis.
A point to be noted, which will soon be more fully explained, respecting something about the way in which cable segment 46(3) is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, in FIG. 1, this same cable segment is shown, in a dash-double-dot line form therein, as a segment extending substantially horizontally intact between brackets 50, 52. In dashed lines in FIG. 1, this cable segment is shown in a condition wherein its “far” end on what is the rear side of bracket 52 in the figure has been cut. In its dashed-line condition, therefore, cable segment 46(3) droops downwardly from bracket 50. A dashed-line arrow 58 in FIG. 1 helps to illustrate this segment drooping condition.
In FIG. 2, cable segment, or reach, 46(3) is shown in phantom lines in its horizontal and intact condition, and fragmentarily in solid lines in the same downwardly drooping position or condition shown for it in dashed lines in FIG. 1.
Completing a description of what is shown particularly in FIGS. 2 and 3, each of the brackets, such as brackets 50, 52, has the shape clearly illustrated in these two figures. This shape includes a pair of co-planar wings, such as wings 50a, 50b in bracket 50, and a central, generally U-shaped, vertically central, formation, or structure, such as tunnel formation 50c in bracket 50. Tunnel formation 50c includes a pair of laterally-spaced, U-shaped components clearly visible and individually marked in FIG. 2, which components define opposite ends of the mentioned tunnel structure in a frontally open region 50d within bracket 50 which is referred to herein as an open bifurcation in the bracket. Wings 50a, 50b 52a, 52b in brackets 50, 52, respectively, are attached, as by welding, to the outer surfaces of columns 14, 16, respectively. Representative welds 60, 62 are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 for brackets 50, 52, respectively.
The tunnel structure in each bracket allows for the easy threading through-passage of cable 46, with the open bifurcation which exists in each bracket furnishing an exposure opening which is window-like in nature, and wherein an associated securing-device clamp, such as clamps 54, 56, may be anchored to cable portions, such as cable portions 46a, 46b, effectively to lock these cable portions against relative motion along the cable axis, and thus effectively capturing clamped portions of the cable at the locations of the associated brackets.
An observation made with respect to the right-hand side of FIG. 2, and to FIG. 3, shows that bracket 52 includes components/portions 52a, 52b, 52c, 52d which are the same in this bracket as are those same designated components/portions that are included in just-described bracket 50.
Clamps 54, 56 are conventional U-bolt clamps, as is made clearly evident by FIGS. 2 and 3 in the drawings.
In terms of the use and operation safety-barrier, of system 42, at the time that frame 10 is ready for the installation of this system, the brackets in the system are welded at the appropriate elevations to the outside surfaces of the columns at locations of lateral exposure wherever it is desired that there be a safety cable run to provide lateral safety and security for workers. With the brackets in place, steel cable 46 having a suitable length is simply and easily threaded through the tunnel structures in the brackets, and when thus threaded and in place, is anchored by attached clamps, such as clamps 54, 56, which are secured to the elongate portions of the cables that are exposed in the open bifurcations existing in the brackets. Such anchoring both effectively locks the cable in place, and additionally divides it into the mentioned cable segments (reaches). Clamp-anchoring thus effectively prevents any movement of the cable and its mentioned elongate portions along the cable's long axis relative to the tunnel structures in the brackets.
This anchored condition thus also describes the mentioned, important, strain-relief condition now existing in system 42. In this condition, removal, as by cutting, of any cable segment between next-adjacent brackets does not compromise the safety-furnishing ability of any other cable segment in the system.
The system of the invention, thus, in terms of its installation and basic structure, is extremely simple in nature, and is easily and inexpensively usable.
When protection is no longer necessary, for example, when a skin panel, such as that shown at 38 in FIG. 1, is put into place on the outside of frame 10, the system of the invention, as briefly outlined just above, readily permits staged removal of cable segments without compromising any other cable-system protection capability by virtue of the fact, stressed above, that the brackets and the clamps furnish a strain-relief condition which allows for the removal of a cable segment without compromising the protective capabilities of any other, immediately adjacent cable segments. Thus, when, for example, cable segment 46(3) is removed, as by cutting its ends, following installation of an outside frame surfacing skin, it is no longer required to provide security. And so, and even more specifically and illustratively, when cable segment 46(3) is removed from functionality, as is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, its immediate neighbors, such as its neighboring segment 46(2), are still entirely functionally in place and intact with respect to providing security.
Shifting attention now to FIGS. 4-6, inclusive, in the drawings, here there is indicated a modified form of the safety-barrier cable system of the present invention. With respect to this modified-invention version, all reference numerals that are applicable to components therein which have already been described and pictured in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, are appropriately repeated.
Fundamentally what differs in this modification of the invention is that the specific kind of securing device which is employed with respect to each bracket in order to lock, against relative axial motion, an associated elongate portion of a cable passing through the tunnel structure in the associated bracket, takes the form, instead of a U-bolt clamp, of an elongate wedge. This wedge, suitably driven vertically downwardly into place, effectively performs, in relation to the previously discussed clamps, functionally the same kind of locking action, and the same kind of creation of a strain-relief condition in the overall cable system from segment-to-segment between brackets.
Looking specifically at FIGS. 4-6, inclusive, such an elongate wedge is shown generally at 64, driven in place with respect to bracket 50 on column 14, and thereby locking cable portion 46a in place in the bifurcation region defined by tunnel structure 50c. As can be seen, wedge 64 has its outer inclined surface 64a bearing forcefully on the inner side of cable portion 46a, and its opposite surface 64b tightly frictionally engaged with the outer face portions of bracket wings 50a, 50b. Proper placement of wedge 64, as by driving the wedge downwardly in FIGS. 4 and 5, creates the obvious locking bulge which appears in cable portion 46a, as is clearly evidenced in FIGS. 5 and 6.
There have thus been described and illustrated herein a preferred and best mode embodiment, and one modification thereof, of a cable safety-barrier system constructed in accordance with the present invention. All of the important economy, safety, and ease of use and placement considerations relating to this system are clearly disclosed in the specification text and drawings, and all of the important advantages of the invention should be immediately apparent to those generally skilled in the art from their reading of this specification and of the drawings.
It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the design and mounting of thread-through brackets may be different from that which is specifically shown herein, so long as the mounting thereof of uprights, like columns, remains a simple task to perform, and through-threading of an elongate cable, as a substantial continuum along its length, and anchoring of the threaded cable at the site of each bracket so as to create the important strain-relief condition, are performed to implement the safety features of this invention.
Accordingly, while preferred, and suggested-modified, versions of the invention have been disclosed herein, it is appreciated that other variations and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.