MCAA Magazine

Jerry Painter  

Subject: Masonry Wall Bracing

I hope everyone had safe travels home from our January MCAA Annual Meeting. The competitions, seminars, and annual reports were excellent. It is great to see the excitement everyone shared for masonry. It was wonderful to see what we are accomplishing as an industry. It is even more exciting to visualize our future potential.

As I enjoyed the final dinner event, I was reminded of just one of the accomplishments that MCAA was able to provide for its membership, as well as the entire masonry industry. It was during the induction of the new “Hall of Fame” members that I was reminded of a publication our MCAA provided in 1999. It was the “Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls under Construction.”

In the late 1990’s our MCAA realized there were code requirements for horizontal support of masonry walls above 8”-0” in height. The problem was that no information was available to assist the masonry contractor as to when, where, and how to brace their walls. Our MCAA formed a “Council for Masonry Wall Bracing” to identify the issues and create a document that would assist in properly bracing masonry walls under construction. Typically, a contractor used their experience and a dose of common sense to develop the needed bracing. Structural engineers, as an industry segment, did not want to design bracing systems. Project design engineers absolutely refused to design a bracing system for walls that they designed as part of the structure. The Council decided MCAA must provide support on this issue for the masonry contractor.

The first chairman was Mario Catani. Mr. Catani is a member of the current “Hall of Fame” inductees. As a matter of fact, four (4) of the original twelve (12) council members are members of the MCAA “Hall of Fame.” Through research and leadership of this group, our MCAA was able to produce a document that is widely referenced and used across the U.S. masonry industry today.

This standard practice will help to design bracing based on whether you are in the initial period or intermediate period of construction. Along with having this standard, a contractor should have a bracing plan. Along with the plan, you will also need a “Competent Person” and a “Qualified Person.” And it would be most beneficial to have a professional engineer (P.E.) on call. There is a case made for internally braced walls. These are somewhat limited in use and requires a P.E. to develop the bracing plan.

It was determined there were two (2) basic reasons to brace walls. One reason is to prevent property damage, such as the loss of a wall, or damage to equipment. (These types of losses you can overcome with or without insurance). The second is the life safety aspect. Every effort should be used to provide protection of the worker from injury or even death. A couple of things that are not difficult to do are establishing a restricted zone and the removal of workers when wind speeds require it. Remember, all of these practices are in place 24/7.

Our MCAA has provided the “Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls under Construction” document for your use to operate safely. If you are currently using it and have a bracing plan, the industry and your employees and their families thank you. If not, start a policy and plan now. Our MCAA will do everything it can to assist you. MCAA has a seminar available for presentation to your state or local group.

If you would like to be a part of something like this, call your MCAA and volunteer for a committee. MCAA is working hard for our industry, but we can do more with your help.

“Be safe and come on around the corner.”