Title:
Scaffolding fall protection system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A scaffold system includes a scaffold frame, supporting one or more platforms. The scaffold system includes a fall protection system including a safety cable supported above the platform by safety cable supports. End supports include an enclosed end attachment while intermediate supports have guide rings that retain the cable but allow for insertion without threading the cable through the rings. Each worker is attached to the safety cable which can slide along the cable and between the guide rings of the intermediate safety cable supports. The workers arrest system generally includes a harness and a deceleration device. The cable supports are removably mounted to the frame with pin type connectors. A cover may be used for some applications and inclement weather with the safety cable supports passing through a seam in the cover or with the cover extending above and over the fall protection system.



Inventors:
Ingalls, Robert V. (Golden Valley, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/880113
Publication Date:
01/22/2009
Filing Date:
07/18/2007
Assignee:
Northland Concrete & Masonry (Burnsville, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04G5/14
View Patent Images:
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20090236180Manhole construction safety and work platform deviceSeptember, 2009Grandy
20070284192FOLDING TRAY FOR FOLDABLE STEP STOOLDecember, 2007Meyers et al.
20040173405Safety device for operations on horizontal surfaces in construction worksSeptember, 2004Bove
20070102241Net systemMay, 2007Rexroad
20020166727Non-conducting ladderNovember, 2002Cramer et al.
20030168285Tree seat apparatus with a seat cushion having a sealed envelope thereinSeptember, 2003Robert II



Primary Examiner:
CHIN-SHUE, ALVIN CONSTANTINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A scaffold system comprising: a scaffold frame; a platform supported by the scaffold frame; a plurality of spaced apart line supports mounted to the scaffold frame and extending upward from the scaffold frame, each support defining a retainer at an upper end of the support; and a fall protection line attached at each end to the scaffold frame and passing through the retainers and supported by the line supports spaced above the platform and the scaffold frame.

2. A scaffold system according to claim 1, wherein at least one line support comprises a tube portion extending horizontally.

3. A scaffold system according to claim 1, wherein the fall protection line extends through the tube portions of the line supports.

4. A scaffold system according to claim 1, further comprising a worker life line attached to a worker and to the fall protection line.

5. A scaffold system according to claim 4, wherein the worker life line slidably attaches to the fall protection line.

6. A scaffold system according to claim 1, wherein the fall protection line comprises aircraft carrier grade cable having a diameter of at least three-eighths of one inch.

7. A scaffold system according to claim 1, wherein the line supports are removably mounted to the scaffold frame.

8. A scaffold system according to claim 7, wherein the line supports comprise pin type connectors.

9. A scaffold system according to claim 1, further comprising a cover extending over the scaffold system and over the fall protection line and fall protection line supports.

10. A scaffold system according to claim 1, further comprising a cover extending over the scaffold frame, wherein the cover defines a seam and wherein the fall protection line supports extend up through the seam.

11. A scaffold system according to claim 10, wherein the cover comprises a plurality of tarps connected along horizontal edges.

12. A scaffold system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the line supports comprises arcing elements spaced apart along the safety line and having partially overlapping profiles configured for receiving and retaining the safety line.

13. A method of erecting a scaffold, comprising: erecting a scaffold frame to a first height; attaching fall protection line supports to the scaffold frame, wherein each of the fall protection line supports comprise a retainer at an upper end of the support; attaching a fall protection line to the scaffold frame and passing the fall protection line through the retainers.

14. A method according to claim 13, further comprising attaching a life line to workers on the scaffold.

15. A method according to claim 14, further comprising placing a platform on the scaffold frame at a first level.

16. A method according to claim 15, further comprising placing a cover over the scaffold frame.

17. A method according to claim 15, further comprising: erecting the frame to a second height above the first height; attaching the fall protection line supports to the scaffold frame extending above the second height; attaching the fall protection line to the scaffold frame and passing the fall protection line through the retainers above the second height; placing a platform on the scaffold frame at a second level above the first level.

18. A method according to claim 17, further comprising attaching a life line to workers on the scaffold.

19. A method according to claim 18, further comprising placing a cover over the scaffold frame.

20. A scaffold safety system for a scaffold system having a scaffold frame and a platform, the safety system comprising: at least one spaced apart end line support mounted to the scaffold frame and extending upward from the scaffold frame, each end line support defining a horizontally extending tube portion at an upper end of the support; at least one intermediate line support mounted to the scaffold frame and extending upward from the scaffold frame, each intermediate line support comprising arcing elements spaced apart along the safety line and having partially overlapping profiles configured for receiving and retaining the safety line; a fall protection line attached at each end to the scaffold frame and passing through the tube portions and supported by the fall protection line supports spaced above the platform and the scaffold frame; and a worker safety line attached to a worker and slidably attached to the fall protection line.

21. A scaffold system according to claim 20, wherein the line supports are removably mounted to the scaffold frame.

22. A scaffold system comprising: a scaffold frame; a platform supported by the scaffold frame; a plurality of spaced apart line supports removably mounted to the scaffold frame and extending upward from the scaffold frame, each support defining a horizontally extending tube portion at an upper end of the support; a fall protection line attached at each end to the scaffold frame and passing through the tube portions and supported by the fall protection line supports spaced above the platform and the scaffold frame; and a worker safety line attached to a worker and slidably attached to the fall protection line.

23. A scaffold system according to claim 22, wherein the line supports comprise pin type connectors.

24. A scaffold system according to claim 22, further comprising a cover extending over the scaffold system and over the fall protection line and fall protection line supports.

25. A scaffold system according to claim 22, further comprising a cover extending over the scaffold frame, wherein the cover defines a seam and wherein the fall protection line supports extend up through the seam.

26. A scaffold system according to claim 22, comprising a plurality of platforms at a plurality of different heights.

27. A scaffold system according to claim 26, wherein the each platform includes an associated fall protection line.

28. A scaffold system according to claim 27, further comprising a cover extending over the scaffold frame.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to a fall protection system for scaffolding and to covered scaffolding with a fall protection system.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Portable scaffold systems are well know and used widely in the construction and maintenance industries, providing elevated access for workers to walls, buildings and other structures. The particular configuration of the scaffolding varies depending upon the use with different heights, widths and sizes to match the particular structure that is worked on. Moreover, scaffolding that is used outdoors may require an enclosure when weather makes working on a scaffold system difficult and potentially dangerous if there is not some protection from the elements.

As a safety precaution, a safety railing or other barrier should extend above and along the platform. Although such barriers are helpful, working conditions and regulations often also mandate personal fall arrest systems for many jobs. Such personal fall arrest systems include some type of anchor and a lifeline attached to a worker wearing a harness. These systems prevent serious injury should the worker fall from the scaffolding platform. It is advantageous if such an anchoring system provides a line to the worker while still allowing the worker to be anchored in such a manner that the anchor point may be moved along the platform. Such an arrangement decreases the amount of time that the worker must spend detaching and reattaching the lifeline.

Gaps, such as openings for doors in a masonry wall being constructed, present additional hazards as the safety of the wall is removed and workers may fall through these gaps. Outriggers may be mounted to extend from the side of the scaffolding in some configurations where gaps would exist. However, it is not always possible to use such extensions and gaps of up to three feet may exist. Moreover, erecting a railing on the inner portion of scaffolding to provide protection at these gaps may be impossible or impractical and/or may not work with all types of scaffolding and fall protection systems. Similar design issues may arise at edges of buildings.

Although the prior art shows many barrier type systems, it can be appreciated that such systems do not provide for anchoring a lifeline allowing the lifeline to slide, providing freedom of movement for the workers while maintaining worker safety at a high level that meets the relevant standards in scaffold systems. Typically, such standards may require limiting the freefall to six feet, having a deceleration limit of three and a half feet, and being able to withstand twice the potential impact generated by an employee when falling a distance of six feet. Codes and standards often require such safety systems where the platform height is more than ten feet above the ground.

Further difficulties arise in providing a safe working environment when the scaffold system must be enclosed. Typically, a tarp like cover is often fitted over the scaffold frame. Such a cover may have additional supports and may be connected to the building or structure to protect the workers from the elements. Codes and regulations may dictate that the workers are equipped with a fall protection system while fitting the cover over the scaffolding. Moreover, once the cover is in place, the operability of the fall protection system should not be limited by the cover.

It can be appreciated that a new fall protection system for scaffolding is needed. Such a system should provide workers freedom of movement while maintaining adequate fall protection. Such a system should provide access and freedom of movement along a platform while limiting the distance of a fall should an accident occur. Moreover, such a system should be compatible with scaffolding wherein a cover is placed over the scaffold frame. Such a system should be compatible with conventional scaffolding and multiple wall configurations and should be easy to install and remove. The present invention addresses these as well as other problems associated with worker fall protection for scaffolding arrangements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The disclosure is directed to a scaffold system and more particularly to scaffolding having a fall protection system. The scaffolding includes conventional scaffolding frame sections that are joined together to support elevated platforms. The scaffolding includes a fall protection system with a safety cable on spaced apart supports maintaining the safety cable above each platform. The safety cable provides a sliding connection to an arrest system for each worker.

The fall protection system includes cable supports, including end cable supports forming a short tube type member through which the safety cable passes. The intermediate cable supports include guide rings interacting to retain the safety cable, but which do not form a continuous closed ring around the cable. The guide rings are spaced apart arcing elements, with radially overlapping profiles so that the safety cable is retained. However, the opening between the guides allows for the arrest system to slide along the cable and pass between the guide ring elements without detachment from the cable. This configuration allows a worker to slide line clips of the arrest system along the safety cable without having to be detached from the safety system.

The cable supports include a riser extending vertically and an upper support mount and lower support mount detachably mounting the cable support posts to the scaffolding frame. Each of the support mounts includes pin-type connectors and associated mounting holes that provide for rigid attachment at two spaced apart positions to the scaffolding frame.

In some embodiments, the scaffolding system includes a cover. An additional cover frame may mount to the scaffolding frame and support the cover. The scaffolding frame is configured to allow workers to stand while working, but may not extend as high as the upper ends of the safety cable supports. Therefore, the safety system is above and outside of the cover. The cover may generally be a tarp that is joined along a seam or seams and the safety cable supports are spaced such that the risers are aligned with and extend up through a seam of the cover. The cover provides a barrier to the elements and a roof over the workers. The cover may be anchored in several configurations depending upon the work site and the type of work performed.

In addition, it can be appreciated that in some embodiments, the cover may be placed over the safety cable supports and the safety cable. With this configuration, the scaffolding and the safety system are totally enclosed.

As mandated by safety codes in many areas, covering of a scaffolding system requires that the workers be attached with a safety device during the installation. Therefore, as the scaffolding is erected, the safety system is also attached and the workers can be safely connected while putting the cover over the scaffolding system.

The safety cable is quickly and easily attached by forming a loop with two cable clamps or similar devices at each end and securing a loop around a portion of the scaffolding frame to provide a secure anchor at each end. The cable must be threaded through the tube portion of the end safety cable supports. However, the guide rings allow for simply angling the cable clips to pass under both ends of the guide ring elements and be centered in the guide rings. This configuration saves time for cable placement and still retains the cable in a safe manner. The other end of the cable is passed through the tube portion of the second end attachment and is also secured to the scaffolding frame by forming a loop with the cable and passing it around a frame member.

These features of novelty and various other advantages that characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages, and the objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings that form a further part hereof, and to the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there is illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference letters and numerals indicate corresponding structure throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a first embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a portion of the scaffolding and fall safety system shown in FIG. 1 while being constructed;

FIG. 3 is an end elevational view of the scaffold system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an end elevational view of the scaffold system shown in FIG. 1 with a worker attached by a safety line;

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a second embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an end elevational view of the scaffold system shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an end elevational view of the scaffold system shown in FIG. 5 with a cover extending over a fall protection system;

FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of a third embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 9 shows a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 10 shows a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of a sixth embodiment of scaffolding with a fall safety system according to the principles of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a detail view of intermediate cable supports for the fall protection system for the scaffolding shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the Figures and in particular FIGS. 1-4, there is shown a scaffold system, generally designated 20. Scaffolding is a portable system that is assembled and disassembled on site with various standardized frame members attaching to one another to create a rigid scaffold structure. The scaffold system 20 includes a frame 22 supporting one or more platforms 24. The scaffold system frame 22 and platform 24 may take on a generally conventional configuration. As shown in FIGS. 5-7, in some embodiments, the scaffold system 20 may include a cover 70 such as a tarp or other protective material. The scaffold system 20 has various uses and typically is placed next to a wall or structure that is being constructed or on which maintenance is being performed. The scaffold system 20 may have multiple floor, or levels, of platforms 24 so that work may be performed simultaneously at different heights and provide access to the structure at various locations.

The scaffold system 20 also includes a fall protection system, generally designated 30. The fall protection system 30 includes a series of safety cable supports 34 extending upward from the scaffold system frame 22. The safety cable support posts 34 retain and support a safety cable 32 extending generally horizontally above and parallel to each platform 24. The safety cable supports 34 include tube like or ring like end guides 36, while intermediate guides 38 between the ends include guide rings 38. The safety cable 32 passes through tube portions of the end attachments 36. The safety cable 32 also passes between guide ring elements 39 on the intermediate guides 38 and is secured to the frame 22, as shown in FIG. 12. The guide ring elements 39 are configured as C-shaped members that are spaced axially apart with partially overlapping profiles. This configuration allows a safety line (discussed below) to slide along the safety cable 32. In one embodiment, the cable 32 is an aircraft grade cable having a diameter of at least ⅜ inch. Moreover, it can be appreciated that the anchorage point to which the cables are attached on the frame 22 should be able to withstand large forces due to one or more workers falling and being supported by the safety cable 32. It can be appreciated that the anchorage point has a capacity to withstand a force of more than 5,000 pounds exerted on the cable. The cable 32 may be looped around a frame member and fixed onto itself with two cable clamps 68 or other suitable devices to create a secure connection to the scaffolding frame 22.

As shown in FIG. 3, the safety cable supports 34 are securely yet removably attached to the scaffold frame 22. Each cable support 34 includes a riser 50 as well as an upper support mount 52 and a lower support mount 62. In some embodiments, the risers 50 for the end attachments are reinforced to withstand greater force than the risers 50 for the intermediate guides. The reinforced risers 50 and end guides 36 are also typically used for corners, as these supports may also endure greater forces. The upper support mount 52 includes a removable pin 54 inserting into a complementary mounting hole 56 while the lower support mount 62 includes a pin 64 extending into a complementary mounting hole 66. Dual attachment points provide a rigid and secure mounting for the cable supports 50. The removable cable supports 34 also provide for interchanging a single support should one be damaged.

Attachment of the safety cable 32 to the scaffolding frame 22 is fast and simple. A loop is formed in an end of the safety cable 32 that passes around a horizontal portion of the frame 22 and is securely closed with two cable clamps 68. After a first end is secured, the cable 32 is passed through the guides 36 and 38 and a loop is formed in the second end of the cable 22, which passes around a portion of the frame 22 and the second end is securely closed with two additional cable clamps 68. For some configurations, particularly those spanning a long distance, the cable 32 may become too heavy to pull by hand due to its length. Therefore, a hand operated winch or device may be used to tighten the cable and provide sufficient tension in the safety cable 32 to eliminate sagging.

As shown in FIG. 4, a personal fall arrest system 40 attaches to the safety cable 32. The fall arrest system 40 typically includes one or more personal safety lines, or lanyards, 44 having clips 48 slidably mounted to the safety cable 32 and to a harness 46 worn by each worker. In addition, the safety line 44 may include a deceleration device; often typically referred to as an energy absorber to lessen the impact to a worker should a fall occur.

It can be appreciated that with the guide ring elements 39, a worker may slide the arrest system along the safety cable 32 by maneuvering the clips 48 between the opposed slightly overlapping members 39 of the guide ring 38, shown in FIG. 12. In this manner, a worker may move along the platform 24 between the end attachments 36 without detaching the personal fall arrest system 40 from the safety cable 32.

In addition to the arrest system 40 mounting to the safety cable 32 and absorbing some the force from a worker's fall, the cable supports 34 are also designed so that the riser 50 may deform and bend downward from the impact and force of a fallen worker exerted on the fall protection system 30, as shown in phantom in FIG. 3. It can be appreciated that the cable supports 34 damaged in such a manner may be easily replaced with a new cable support without causing damage to portions of the scaffold system 20 and incurring a more expensive replacement of portions of the scaffold system without damage to the scaffold frame members 26. This also decreases the chances of the scaffolding 20 tipping over, which may cause more damage and injuries.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, there is shown an embodiment of the scaffold system 20 including a cover 70. As shown in FIG. 5, the scaffold system 20 can be configured so that the cover 70 extends up and over cover supporting frame members 80. The cover 70 may be a conventional tarp, such as a polyvinyl flexible tarp or several tarps joined together. The tarp 70 may be attached with clips 78 mounting to portions of the scaffold frame sections 26 or cover frame sections 80 extending over the upper level of the scaffolding frame 22. The cover 70 and scaffolding frame 22 may also be further anchored to the ground. The cover supporting frame members typically extend over the wall 100. Anchoring frame leg members 82 and 83 are joined end to end and support the cover supporting frame members 80 on the side of the wall 100 opposite the scaffolding frame 22. In addition, guy lines 84 attach the frame members 80 and the scaffold frame 22 to an associated deadman or solid anchor 86 placed in the ground. This anchoring system provides added stability to the scaffold system 20 and the cover 70. The joined tarps may have one or more horizontally extending seams 72 that are aligned with the safety cable supports so that the cable supports 34 may extend upward through one or more of the seams 72 and above the cover 70. In this embodiment, the safety cable 32 extends outside the cover 70 and the safety lines 44 attach through the seams 72.

As shown in FIG. 7, in another configuration embodiment, the cover 70 may be arranged to fit over the cover frame sections 80, and over the safety cable supports 34 and safety cable 32 of the fall protection system 30. The fall protection system 30 and the personal arrest systems 40 are completely enclosed within the cover 70.

During assembly, the scaffold system 20 is erected by attaching various scaffold frame members 26 together. The scaffold system 20 is generally configured so that there are complementary sections that align and engage one another in a conventional configuration. Additional tightening and support further strengthens and reinforces the scaffold system 20. Platforms 24 are added as the scaffold frame 22 is erected. The fall protection is system 30 is preferably erected as the scaffold system 20 is erected as regulations may require that workers must have a form of fall protection while this work is being performed and typically require that fall protection is in place while the cover 70 is being placed over the scaffold system 20 and attached thereto. The fall protection system 30 may be erected and raised from level to level with the addition of individual levels of the scaffold system 20. Cable safety supports 34 easily attach to the scaffold frame 22 by aligning the cable support 34 to the frame and inserting the pins 54 and 64 into the respective folds 56 and 66. The safety cable 32 is attached to the scaffold frame 22 and then strung through the end attachment 36 and the guide rings 38 to the end attachment 36 at the second end of the scaffold system 20 and then looping around and securing the second end of the safety cable 32 to the frame 22. If a cover 70 is placed over the scaffold system, that work is performed after the fall protection system 30 is in place. In this manner, the workers are safely secured to the scaffolding 20 while the cover 30 is secured over the scaffolding 20.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is shown a further embodiment of a scaffolding system 20 with a cover 70. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the cover 70 is configured to form a flat roof portion extending over the scaffolding framework 22 and the masonry wall 100. Leg members 82 and 83 are mounted to an anchor 86 and extend upward. The cover 70 includes openings or eyelets that are otherwise tied or attached to the framework 22 extending over to create the flat roof. The fall arrest system 30 is positioned above the roof portion of a cover 70. The cable support 34 extend up through the seam 72 in the cover so that the supports 36 and 38 and safety cable 32 are above the cover and the roof portion of the cover 70 in a manner similar to that shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. The safety lines 44 from the worker harness also extend up through the seams and are attached to the cable 32. It can be appreciated that in this embodiment, the workers are provided with a safety system 30 while working in an enclosed, protected environment.

Referring now to FIG. 9, there is shown a further embodiment of a scaffolding fall protection system 20. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 9, the cover 70 is configured so that an upper roof portion is angled and attaches to the top of a load bearing wall 102. Such a configuration may be commonly used where a veneer 104, such as a brick or stone veneer, is being placed over the surface of the load bearing wall 102. As with the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the supports 34 extend through seams 72 in the cover 70. As the upper end of the cover is anchored to the load bearing wall 102, further supports 88 may be added to provide greater strength to the angled upper portion of the cover 70. Such supports 88 may be wires, 2×4's or other common structural elements. In addition, it can be appreciated that a mounting member 90 may be utilized for connecting the support members 88 and the cover 70 to the load bearing wall 102. The slope of the upper portion of the cover 70 may also be varied in accordance with the configuration of the load bearing wall 102 and the scaffold framework 22. As with the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the supports 34 extend upward through seams 72 in the cover 70 and the cable 32 extends over and above the sloped portion of the cover 70.

Referring now to FIG. 10, there is shown yet a further embodiment of a scaffold and safety system 20. As with the configuration shown in FIG. 9, the cover portion 70 mounts to a load bearing wall 102 above a veneer layer 104. The cover roof portion is substantially flat and horizontal as with the embodiment shown in FIG. 8. Supports 88 may extend to mounting members 90 in a manner similar to that shown in FIG. 9. The support posts 34 extend up through the seam 72 of the cover 70.

In an embodiment shown in FIG. 11, the cover extends to the top of the wall 100. The wall 100 may be a load bearing wall and may require scaffolding 20 for applying stucco, paint or other finishes or protective layers 106 to the face of the wall 100. The supports 34 may extend up through the seams 72 of the cover 70. The roof portion of the cover 70 may be horizontal or may be angled depending upon the height of the framework 22 and the wall 100. It can also be appreciated that with the other embodiments, additional supports or mounting members may be added depending upon the geometry, the type of wall 100 or type of cover 70.

As can be appreciated, the present invention provides flexibility for providing a safety system allowing mobility for the workers. Moreover, the system allows for enclosing the scaffolding framework and adapting to mounting to different types of walls for different types of jobs and applications while maintaining mobility and safety.

It is to be understood, however, that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.





 
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