Lean Safety

08 March 2017

The Hoffman H-Post

Written by  Jack Rubinger Published in Lean Safety

At Daimler in Portland, H-Posts were strategically placed at all perimeters of each floor and at each stair shaft, mechanical/electrical shaft, elevator shaft and roof top. This approach gave trades a way to protect themselves for both fall-restraint and fall-arrest.  With the poured-in-place coil-insert sleeve, the H-post is anchored to new slab tops—providing fall-restraint through posts and guardrails, and anchor points for fall-arrest.

by Jack Rubinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 503-964-4877

Traditionally, wood guardrails were nailed. This lead to guardrails and toe boards coming loose as exposed to construction activities and wind/weather.  By fastening all components with screws, this eliminated this potential, typical failure.  In addition, the H-Post was designed to use either wood rails or, steel cable rails.  Holes were provided on these posts to fasten either system.  Additional holes were provided to allow extension of posts or, securing methods for the posts.
The H-Post was tested before use, to prove that the below-slab anchor point provided full, fall-arrest pressures.  Hoffman tested the system with weights, proving the full capacity of the fall protection anchor point.  Afterwards, the H-Post was put into use.

Hoffman took the time to layout on electronic documents where each H-post would be located, had subcontractors review/approve and, developed placement drawings for the concrete crews to install the insert hardware devices prior to each pour sequence. Another goal for the H-Post was to have a system that was user friendly: The installation and removal of these posts and associated guardrails, mid-rails and toe-board/wheel-stop components were fastened with screws to the H-posts.  

At certain points on projects, fall protection posts may need to be extended vertically (i.e., on a built-up roof deck, etc…) or, braced to secure in odd locations.  Thus, Hoffman made sure, that there was “flexibility” designed into these new H-Posts.
At elevator, mechanical/electrical, stair shaft openings, the H-Posts allow variable access points.  With allowing user-friendly removal and modifications, the H-posts gave way to removable gates or, points of entry to allow construction at shaft locations.  In fact, at the Daimler project, at the elevator shaft entry doors, Hoffman utilized the H-Post system to give the elevator contractor distinct and protected entry points to the elevator hoist-way fronts (doorways).
H-Posts are also adaptable for cast-in-place concrete structures, structural steel structures and, wood-framed structures.  At the base of each posts, there are several holes of differing diameters to allow fastening to these varying building types.  To date, each have been utilized and proven safe.
Currently, Hoffman is utilizing the H-Posts on a structural steel, slab on metal deck application.  Here, a distinct base connection was designed for the post that sets the base of the H-post to the future slab’s finish elevation prior, to pouring the deck with concrete.  This base provides fall-restraint to workers on the metal deck during its advancement.  After the deck is poured, and the timing of construction has advanced, posts and guardrails may be removed with a simple bolt.

Previously, most structural steel buildings had ironworker crews install welded cans to the tops of wide flange beams. Cable-railing followed the posts being inserted into these cans.  The struggle was that these steel cans and posts were in the way of multiple building components.  General contractors found themselves trying to remove this system and keep the work area safe at the same time.  This was very time consuming (not lean, not safe).  

In addition, the general contractor had to install post-concrete pour, alternate fall protection posts and guardrails because the initial system was normally in the way of walls around mechanical/electrical/stair/elevator shaft openings and potentially in the way of perimeter façade systems — lending itself to inefficient re-work by the general contractor and impacting to subcontractor’s work — definitely not lean.
Post material were selected to be light-weight. All components of the H-Post were designed to be laser-cut (for accuracy) in fabrication and have rounded corners (not sharp).  

The top of each post had a laser-cut, Hoffman “H” installed to identify ownership and brand it with pride.  All components of the H-Posts, after fabrication and welding process were completed, were hot-dipped, galvanized to keep the posts from corroding.

To date, Hoffman has re-used H-Posts from the Daimler project and has employed them to other Northwest projects.  In addition, the H-Posts are being fabricated to suit many of Hoffman’s projects throughout.  It has been a “win-win” on meeting the goals for this new, innovative fall protection device.

Reported from Tony Howard, Hoffman’s Safety Director, “Recently, the H-Post and its anchorage system played a role in saving the life of an apprentice working on a high-rise building in Seattle.”


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