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In fine form: 8 ways to stay safe when working with Formwork

Formwork 101

Plywood formwork such as F17 Formply is found on thousands of building sites around the country, as it is simple, cost-effective and helps concreters get the job done without much hassle.

Formply, formwork or hardface is made from structural plywood coated on both sides with a film veneer. This makes it ideal for repetitive use in wet environments such as for concrete formwork in floors, walls, frames, bridges and other structures. The film coating makes it much more durable and resistant to abrasion than plain uncoated ply.  Plus, it’s resistant to the alkalinity of concrete meaning it lasts well even with repeated use.

Formply is easily sawn and shaped with everyday tools enabling you to form around difficult areas. It is rigid, stable, lightweight, and easy to install, meaning large areas can be laid without swelling and expansion.

This simple product enables workers to easily build structures on site creating a skeleton for concreting works. Building formwork is a straightforward process but there are a few essentials you need to be aware of before you start.

How to stay safe on the job

Firstly, all formwork should be designed by a suitably qualified person with good engineering knowledge. Local standards and regulations need to be followed in order to create a structurally sound building. These include Australian Standards AS3610: Formwork for concrete and other guidance material. The formwork should be braced and tied together to ensure it stays in place during the pour. Additionally, it’s important to build it so that it can be removed easily and safely, without damaging the final structure. A basic building design generally makes the job easier; both in terms of constructing and dismantling the formwork.  The more complex the design, the more hazards you need to watch out for.

Your local regulations and Australian standards provide lots of information and guidance, but to get you thinking about safety on site, here are some things to be aware of.


 Heads up

Falling tools and objects can cause injury or harm your workmates working below. Installing scaffold mesh or containment screens such as Jaybro’s site mesh or shade cloth will help minimise the damage caused by dropped objects.

Site mesh is also great for advertising your brand or project (ask us about printing your logo on fence mesh).

Remember that banner mesh or shadecloth will be heavier when wet increasing the overall load on the structure. Ensure the project’s engineering calculations account for this.

Avoid collapse

Collapse can happen at any time during the process. However, the risk of collapse can be minimised by following the formwork design to the letter, having it checked and certified before loading, and regularly inspecting it throughout the build.

It’s also important to avoid point loading on any part of the formwork including by placing concrete evenly. This can be achieved by creating level foundations and not exceeding the working load limit of builders props. Also, make sure to always use the manufacturers recommended pins in props instead of improvised bolts or reo.

Don’t get zapped

Any construction carried out near overhead or underground wires is risky.

Make sure you follow your local workplace safety authority guidelines and have a safe work method statement in place that everyone is aware of.

Walk this way

There should be a safe entry & exit from the formwork, for example stairs, platforms or ramps. Sometimes scissor lifts or fixed ladder systems can be used where it is safe to do so. Make sure workers don’t have to take unnecessary risks to enter and leave the work area.

Watch out for the neighbours  

When constructing formwork, check that you’re not going to accidentally reduce the security or stability of an adjacent building.

Stop and determine how to control the risk of collapse of the adjoining structure. Always get engineering advice if there’s any risk to surrounding buildings.

Lift it safely

Loads being lifted by cranes should be slung and secured so the load can’t fall. Formply loads should be strapped together and lifted in a flat position. If lifting lugs are used, check with the manufacturer about the strength of the lifting lugs. Note that formwork is not suitable for full loading until it is fully secured. This means when the deck, tie-ins and props are in place. Schedule your delivery of materials so that loads aren’t lifted onto an incomplete or unsecured deck.

This goes with that

Components from different manufacturers can often have different tolerances, even though they look alike. Mixing incompatible formwork components can affect the structural integrity of the formwork, potentially causing it to collapse.

As a general rule, don’t mix components, although if you have to – always get engineering advice and ensure they are a compatible size and strength.

how to install temporary fencing

F17 Formply specifications

F17 Formply features high-quality outer veneers making it durable and reusable. It is produced with certified timber veneers. These are glued with resin and overlaid with a hard durable resin-impregnated paper, to give concrete a smooth finish. F17 Formply complies to Australian Standard AS6669 Plywood Formwork.

Constructed from F17 grade timber, it resists expanding or contraction when exposed to rain and temperature changes. This, therefore, makes it easier to lay forms for large decks. It can also be used on timber form frame systems and suits a range of concrete slab thicknesses and tolerances.

F17 Certified Formwork Plywood

  • 17 mm thick
  • Australian Standard AS6669 Approved
  • F17 Certified Grade
  • Smooth finish perfect for formwork

Disclaimer: This information is provided as an introductory guide only and does not constitute professional advice. Ensure you make your own independent enquiries before deciding if a particular product is right for you. Consult the regulations and standards applicable to your area and check with your workplace health and safety representative for further information. Jaybro does not warrant the accuracy, content, completeness or suitability of the information on this site (or any site owned by the Jaybro Group) for your individual purposes.

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