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We Need Industry Breakthrough of Truss-out Scaffold and Critical Temporary Work System


The recent fatal accident involving a scaffolding collapse has highlighted the need to reevaluate the use of truss-out
scaffold systems. Truss-out Scaffold (TOS) has been a popular choice in the construction industry due to its adaptability, cost-effectiveness, and quick installation for maintenance tasks. However, safety concerns have prompted regulatory bodies to establish stricter guidelines.

Despite these measures, the assembly of TOS often requires work-at-height (WAH) conditions, posing safety risks for workers. In 2023, around 18% of WAH-related injuries were related to TOS assembly and operation. To address these concerns, there is a need for a safer and more controlled alternative.

The demand for an innovative New Truss Out Scaffold (NTOS) has become crucial as the construction industry embraces High Productivity Construction (HPC) and Design for Safety (DfS) practices. The NTOS should prioritise safety, feasibility, and robustness in temporary works. And it should be user-friendly, allowing for quick and secure assembly and dismantling in a safe indoor environment without complicated methodologies or additional machinery. It should also offer flexible adjustments to accommodate various maintenance tasks.

Standardised components and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual are essential for the NTOS to ensure best safety practices. Mechanised connections should be incorporated to minimise human error during assembly and disassembly, adapting to changing construction site conditions. The NTOS aims to revolutionise safety by reengineering handheld tools used for external structural fixings, reducing the need for work-at-height and associated risks. Compactness is crucial for risk reduction and quality enhancement in the NTOS design. This allows for easy storage within building maintenance offices, ensuring certified NTOS availability for workers.

Mechanised connections should be incorporated to minimise human error during assembly and disassembly, adapting to changing construction site conditions.

Furthermore, the NTOS must have superior load-bearing capacity to safely support different work conditions and minor construction materials without additional modifications. 

In conclusion, the NTOS represents a significant advancement over traditional TOS, prioritising worker safety and aligning with the industry’s focus on safer, more productive, and efficient construction methods. This engineering innovation should be encouraged across various temporary work solutions, particularly for heavy lifting operations and retaining structures in deep excavations.

With the launch of the Option Module for public sector projects and an increased emphasis on collaboration in the built environment sector, well-constructed bespoke particular conditions incorporating collaborative clauses can be produced with legal advice for the commonly used private sector standard forms in Singapore, namely, the REDAS Design and Build Conditions of Main Contract, 4th Edition and the SIA Building Contract 2016.

Whatever collaborative contracts and agreements there are now and to follow, they are only the tools that empower the people and encourage them along. At the end of the day – collaboration or no collaboration, it all depends on the people – the parties themselves!

Concept of New Truss Out Scaffold

This article was first published by the Hong Kong Engineer magazine, March 2024 issue.

About the Author

Thomas Tong

Ir. Thomas Tong

Executive Director
Technology & Innovation
Ocean Wang

Ir. Ocean Wang

Principal Engineer

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