The Project

The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail, Colorado, is a 564,000-square-foot, six-level condominium with three levels of below-grade parking. The below-grade structure is a combination of structural pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete, while the above-grade structure is cast-in-place concrete slabs and walls with a steel-framed roof.

A Unique Challenge

A unique challenge on this project was one of access. The scope included the installation of an elaborate exterior skin and PCL, as well as numerous subcontractor employees, would require access to the building’s exterior for installation and inspection purposes.

The obvious solution was scaffolding, however, the manner in which it would be erected and placed remained a challenge. Allowing individual subcontractors to use their own scaffold, as typical to a project, would have created added congestion and a higher risk factor on-site – and then there was the matter of training.

Given the amount of scaffolding needed and the number of people who would have to use it, it was necessary to mitigate risks by providing good, solid training in how to assemble, disassemble and reassemble the scaffolding.

On-site, full-scale demonstrations would have proven complicated and logistically challenging. First, an area would have had to be set up on-site to educate and orient those who would be using the scaffolding. With a tight site, cold temperatures and often snowy conditions, keeping trainees' attention would be difficult and off-site training sessions for several hundred workers were cost-prohibitive.

The Solution

The project team decided that one common scaffolding system would be erected for all the exterior work. The issue of training so many different people to use the system correctly and safely was a concern.

The on-site Health Safety and Environment coordinator recalled seeing a miniature scaffold on display at the scaffold manufacturer’s sales office and wondered if a model could be used as a training tool. In a follow-up conversation, the manufacturer couldn’t recall a case of using a miniature model for training but believed it was possible. Ultimately, PCL investigated the training options available and concluded that a miniature scaffolding model in a classroom setting was the most viable option.  

The model was used to train workers in assembly and disassembly prior to them performing any on-site work. Easy access to the miniature scaffold provided subcontractors a simple method of effectively training their workers in a timely and efficient manner.

  • Additional advantages to this ingenious solution include the following:
  • Assembly and disassembly of each model takes approximately fifteen minutes.
  • Training can take place in a controlled classroom environment without distractions.
  • The location of the training can be easily moved if necessary.
  • The potential for injury while training on a full-scale scaffold is eliminated.
  • The trainer is able to respond more rapidly in the event a flaw is discovered in erection or dismantling techniques.
  • A better line of communication is established between trainees and trainers.

The use of this new and unconventional method of training made a big difference in how individual workers confidently gained access to the areas where work needed to be performed. “Tried and true” methods for performing certain tasks are often the best choice, but there are times when a departure from the norm mixed with a bit of ingenuity can render superior results. 

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