Designing a beautiful bridge is an honor. But, that bridge must also be safe and durable over time. Good design, engineering, and construction are essential. A high-use bridge on a busy highway or street must be constructed with the best materials and building methods. Then, the bridge must be regularly inspected and repaired as necessary over the years to keep it safe. There is no room for cost-cutting or errors in building or repairing a bridge. Bridge repairs must meet high standards for safety.
When Does a Bridge Need Repair Work?
When a bridge inspection shows safety concerns because of structural damage or obsolescence, it is time to mount a bridge repair project. But, bridge repair is dangerous work that must be done correctly for worker safety and for a successful bridge repair that gives the bridge many years of safe operation. The correct safety measures and equipment must be used. Bridge Deck Forming Systems are available for bridge building and repair.
Unfortunately, over 47,000 U.S. bridges are in need of repair and present dangers to American drivers. Bridges in need of repair can be structurally deficient and dangerous. For a structurally deficient bridge to be unsafe, they need to be rated at a 4 or below on a list of 0 to 9 by the Federal Highway Administration. This rating is used on each element of the bridge. If a bridge is inspected and one or more of these parts or elements is rated at a 4 or below, repairs are called for.
Bridge Repair Work is Dangerous
There are serious dangers for workers during bridge repair jobs, but 3 crucial safety measures can prevent risks. Hazard analysis is done before work begins, proper protective equipment used, and Scaffolding and fall protection provided.
Equipment needed for worker safety on bridge repair jobs includes:
- Head, face, and eye protection with hearing protection
- Foot and hand protective equipment and other personal protective equipment
- Fire blanketing and fire prevention and protective equipment\
- Under-bridge protection
- Professional high-visibility safety equipment as needed.
- Bridge access equipment designed for the job
- Necessary signage and barriers
- The use of safe vehicles with safety features including working brake and headlights, horns, safety glass, proper working mirrors, seat belts and correct seating, and back-up alarms.
- Proper material handling, disposal, and storage
- fall protection gear
Before Work Begins
Before work begins a hazard analysis should be done by a highly qualified expert. Safety plans and correct safety equipment should be put in place. The hazard assessment will determine what safety equipment will be needed and what safety plan will be put in place for the job. All equipment used must have a safe use plan before work begins.
Scaffolding is Important
There must be proper scaffolding in place for safe bridge repair work. Deficient scaffolding can cause workers to fall or allow workers to be hit by falling objects from above. Scaffolds can be either supported scaffolds or suspension scaffolds. Both types of scaffolds must be erected under skilled supervision and meet safety standards.
The Bridge Must Be Repaired with Quality Materials and Systems
In addition to worker safety, the correct bridge repair systems and materials must be sourced and used. System components, wall and floor formwork, load-bearing systems, and other bridge systems must be specified and purchased from reputable supply companies and installed properly following the producer’s specifications. companies such as Doka supply quality materials and systems and have project managers available.
Thousands of American highway and street bridges are in need of repair and the work is going slowly. Safe bridge repair is needed in every state.