Many contractors, both masonry and general, are cited every year by OSHA for inadequate masonry wall bracing. While some citations may very well be warranted, others are not. Following is a list of frequently asked questions concerning masonry wall bracing:
Q: Do all masonry walls need bracing?
A: Yes. 29 CFR 1926.706 states all walls over eight feet must be adequately braced. However, in an OSHA letter of interpretation from 1996, OSHA recognizes that some walls may be designed to take construction loads. If this is the case, the employer (i.e., the contractor) needs to determine if the wall is capable of withstanding construction forces and does not need bracing. If this is so, the contractor needs to substantiate this claim.
Q: Does brick veneer need to be braced?
A: It depends on the type of construction. If the brick veneer is tied to an existing structure (i.e., wood stud, steel stud or CMU backup), then the veneer does not have to be braced. However, if the CMU and brick are being built simultaneously, then one side of the composite wall should be braced.
Q: Do both sides of the wall need to be braced?
A: No. There are different types of wall bracing systems that allow for varying bracing methods. Some bracing consists of a compression style of bracing that needs to be placed on both sides of the wall. Some other types consist of a steel connector that goes through the wall allowing the use of a dead man to withstand multi-directional wind loads.
Q: Does the limited access zone need to be on both sides of the wall?
A: No. 29 CFR 1926.706 (a)(3) states that the limited access zone shall be established on the side of the wall that will be unscaffolded.
Q: Can scaffolding act as wall bracing?
A: No. Scaffolding in most cases is designed to be tied to the structure. Therefore, it cannot withstand any wind loads.
Q: Where can I get the Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls and the Masonry Wallbracing Handbook?
A: The Mason Contractors Association of America at www.masoncontractors.org.
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