Description and History of Innovation
David (Paul) Riley has been a safety professional for almost 25 years. Early in his career (1997) he worked as a Risk Manager for a Professional Employer Organization. Several of his clients were small residential construction business owners. Many employees were residential framers exposed to fall hazards while walking the “top plate” to frame homes.
Paul wanted to find a loss prevention solution for the framing contractors that would also minimize impact on their productivity. After brainstorming with his framers it was determined that a hanging scaffold made out of steel might work. After much research, he found that no one was mass producing a steel hanging scaffold that would work for framing contractors. Paul wanted to make a scaffold available for his framers to use. He found an engineering firm to help him with design and prototypes.
The first WallWalker® were made of rigid steel in 1997. With feedback from the framers and many trips to the drawing board the new compact WallWalker® Hanging Scaffold made of structural lightweight aluminum was born. Over 300 brackets were sold that first year (1998) to help keep framing contractors safe from falls. WallWalker’s first US Patent in 2000 and the second US Patent approved in 2005. Since 1998 over 25,000 WallWalker® have been sold in the United States and Canada.
WallWalker® have helped set the pace for fall protection solutions in the residential construction industry. Due to the versatility of the WallWalker® Hanging Scaffold it has also provided fall protection solutions in other industries such as storm shutter installation in high rises, pole barn construction, roofing, bridge work, remodeling, and others. The WallWalker® has helped change the culture in residential construction safety. Residential construction management is moving away from the old school of thinking that it is necessary for their employees to walk the “top plate” without fall protection in order to be competitive. They can see the benefits of using a hanging scaffold system to not only help with protecting their employees from falls, but being more profitable due to lower workers’ compensation rates, increased productivity, improved quality of product, and gaining more work due to their safety reputation.
Management and Safety Benefits:
Satisfied customers that have been using the WallWalker® product for years continue to buy more as they grow. They claim that once their employees get used to setting up the scaffold system that their productivity is not affected or even increases because they can move around freely and more comfortably instead of trying to balance off the “top plate”. Ergonomically their employees have fewer back injuries because they don’t have to bend over from the “top plate” to install trusses and fascia board. They are now standing on the WallWalker® platform and their work is at their waist. Management claims that their quality increases, again because they are not bending over from the “top plate” with a nail gun. They can now more accurately nail the trusses from a comfortable working platform. It is difficult to quantify how many fatalities or disabling injuries the WallWalker® has prevented, but if we have prevented at least one death or disabling injury it has been worth every penny. Some quantitative data about the WallWalker® Scaffold can be reviewed in the following article: Kaskutas V, Miller, H, Evanoff B. (2013). Fall Protection Technology at Residential Sites. Professional Safety, 58 (7) 36-40.
Also see photograph on page 3 of the OSHA Guidance Document for Residential Construction at https://www.osha.gov/doc/guidance.pdf. This OSHA document now contains photos of the WallWalker® System in use.