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Temporary wind loads

Temporary wind loads

Temporary wind loads

Are there any approved national (U.S) standards for determining wind loads on temporary structures?  Say, for example, that during renovation of an existing two-story building, the second floor diaphragm will be removed and replaced.  While the second floor is absent, the existing exterior walls must either span from the ground to the roof, or be temporarily braced.  It would be economically advantageous if bracing could be eliminated or designed for a reduced loading.  But what wind loads should be considered?  It seems logical that the full 50-year return period wind load could be reduced if the construction period will only be a few weeks.  But I have not found authoritative guidance for this condition.  I have seen some design guides for tilt-up and masonry construction that give some recommendations, but they are not what I would consider an approved national standard.

RE: Temporary wind loads

This is the type of thing that your professional liabliity insurance always warns you about-  stay away from construction means and methods.  Tell the contractor to hire an SE to design the bracing to meet all applicable codes, including OSHA requirements.

If you are designing this for the contractor-which should only be done for a separate fee, under a separate contract than that for the building design- do not, under any circumstances, try to save money.  This is not the place to look for and economical design or to play against the odds of a 50-year wind.  No matter what reference you may find, no matter what logic you may apply, if the wall fails despite being braced per your design, you will be held accountable for reducing the wind loads.

OSHA section 1926.706(5)(b) states, for the case of masonry but it has similar provisions throughout,that a wall "shall be adequately braced to prevent overturning and collapse unless the wall is supported to prevent overturning or collapse.  The bracings shall remain in place until permanent supporting elements of the structure are in place."

That's it.  The wall must be braced to prevent overturning and collapse.  If it fails, then it violates the OSHA requirements.

Be conservative.

RE: Temporary wind loads

One clarification:  OSHA does not apply directly to design professionals.  However,if you are designing this for a contractor, he will include in your contract that it must meet OSHA requirements, thereby pulling you into OSHA's net...  If the contract does not state the OSHA requirement explicitly, in court the contractor will argue that you knew what the design was intended for, and therefore should have complied with all OSHA requirements.  This is a reasonable arguement that will stand up in court.

RE: Temporary wind loads

In Australia we would generally design for 80% of the long term design wind velocity.  This is in accordance with a provision in our Wind loading Code for buildings 'of a temporary nature and which are to be used for less than 6 months'.  (We are warned that this does not allow for tornadoes etc).

There is a reasonable argument that goes like this:

Wind loads are all based on probabilities anyway, and we rarely design for the highest credible wind velocity.

The common acceptance of a 50 year wind as the basis of long term wind load (for a structure with a design life of 50 years or more) is based on acceptance of a certain level of risk.

It is reasonable to accept a similar level of risk for short duration critical stages of construction, by designing for (say) a 2 to 5 year wind.

Designing for the full 50 year wind under conditions which may only apply for two weeks or so would be somewhat like designing the final structure for a 500 year wind (and unreasonably conservative).

If you are in an area where tornadoes are fairly common, then the 5 year wind might well be a minor tornado anyway.

RE: Temporary wind loads

British Standard BS 6399 Part 2 is probably not much use to you in the US, but just for interest you might like to know that it contains a statistical factor to be applied to short term structures:...
"The seasonal factor Ss may be used to reduce the basic wind speed for buildings which are expected to be exposed to the wind for specific subannual periods, in particular for temporary works and buildings during construction.  Values which maintain the risk (probability) of being exceeded of Q=0.02 in the stated period are given in annex D."...
Annex D has a whole table of figures.  For example the one month value of Ss varies from 0.98 in January down to 0.62 in July.  Clearly this is specifically related to the geographical and meteorological situation in the UK and could not readily be exported.
But the principle given in BS6399 supports your (Taro) plea for a rational approach to short term wind loads based on good wind data.

RE: Temporary wind loads


I am not a lawyer, but...

In the USA, the AISC's "Code of Standard Practice for Steel Buildings and Bridges" calls for the Designer to identify on the contract documents the lateral-load-resisting system for the completed structure, AND also any special conditions during erection.  (para.7.10)

It looks to me this paragraph put the onus on the designer to call the attention of the contractor to any weakening of the structure during refurbishment.

As a designer, I would make sure that the structure is safe at ALL times, even if that means providing for temporary bracing while the structural diaphragms are removed.  


RE: Temporary wind loads

On our CD's, we do call attention to provide temporary bracing, but we stop short of saying what it should be, as that falls under means and methods.

RE: Temporary wind loads

The responses regarding design responsibility and liability are well-intentioned, but do not really address the technical aspect of the question.  The primary issue is whether there is an approved national standard in the U.S. for calculating design wind loads on temporary structures.  Please disregard the specific original example of a building renovation project.  The temporary structure might be construction scaffolding, a parade grandstand, a big-top circus tent, or any other structure that will only be subjected to wind loads for a short duration.  The references to Australian and British standards are helpful, but I would like to find a U.S. equivalent.

RE: Temporary wind loads


I do not know of any national standard in the USA  that specifies a temporary wind.  

I doubt that a national code would address that subject.   It would have to define "temporary", consider the season of the year, and the type of weather forecast available at the site.

I have seen operation manuals for large equipment, as cranes and launching pads, where operating winds were established using the probabilities that a wind of certain intensity occur while the equipment is in operation.     

Different sites may have different criteria.   In hurricane-prone regions, high winds occur only during the hurricane season and could be forecast, while in tornado-prone regions, they may occur with no notice.

Sorry this reply does not answer your question categorically.

Good Luck in your search!


RE: Temporary wind loads

There is a US model code technical reference that is consistent with the liability/OSHA/safety issues that I posted previously.

BOCA-1999, Section 1609.1.2, states that "adequate temporary bracing shall be provived to resist wind loading on structural components and structural assemblages during the erection and construction phases."  BOCA Section 1609.1 states that "wind loads on the building's main windforce-resisting system shall be determined in accordance with section 1609.7."   There are no provisions for wind load reduction for temporary conditions, and it is explicitly stated that the bracing must resist the wind loads.

RE: Temporary wind loads

Taro's question related to a very short-term condition, with a duration of only a few days. In such circumstances, it would be reasonable to forget the code for permanent buildings and look at somethink more transient, such as codes for designing cranes. The typical crane code nominates a design wind speed of 15 or 20 m/sec for a crane in service, and applies the normal factors of safety to this. 20 m/sec corresponds to something like the "once a fortnight" 3 second gust, and produces wind loads of about 1/4 to 1/3rd normal design pressures.

When I have a critical operation, such as lifting a large roof or assembling several components to form a real structure, and I know it will only take a day or so, I use a design wind speed of 20m/sec. This is sufficient to identify the critical items, and to analyse the real cost of extra bracing. If the cost is significant, and the contractor is prepared to accept a few days delay, then that becomes the design.

The next step is then to ensure the wind experienced with the structure in that state is no more than the design will allow. I use the Weather Forecast for "on water" winds, as this tends to be more consistent. I also note that forecasters quote "mean hourly" wind speeds, and do not forecast gusts with any degree of accuracy. Therefore factor the forecast by at least 1.6 for gusts. All this has to be incorporated in Erection Procedures, and the construction manager has to be brought up to speed on how to get and read a weather forecast.

It has worked for me for the past 15 years, with only the occasional shouting match. When all else fails, stand the project manager in the back of a pick-up, and drive it at 40 mph, and say "Do you expect your crew to work in that!"

Russell Keays

RE: Temporary wind loads

I cant recall the exact reference, but a 20% overstress is allowed for temporary structures.

RE: Temporary wind loads

My only experience with this type of thing has been in the design of concrete formwork, and associated bracing.  I don't have a copy of the latest, but there are paragraphs in ACI 347-78 about Horizontal Loads on bracing.  They do not talk about any reductions to the wind loads.

Sentence says:  "Wall forms should be designed to meet wind load requirements of the local building code.  The minimum wind design load should be 15 psf, unless local codes specifically permit less.  Bracing for wall forms should be designed for a horizontal load of at least 100 lb per lineal ft of wall, applied at the top."

In my experience, local building codes do not allow a reduction for so called temporary structures - because so many of these structures remain standing longer than expected, or are re-erected many times over - meaning that statistically they become more likely to experience the 30 year wind.

Hope this helps.

RE: Temporary wind loads

Thanks to all for your helpful responses.  I introduced this topic mostly as a hypothetical question because I am not involved with the design of the temporary structures or construction bracing, but am curious to learn more about the topic.

The responses seem to agree with my own limited research into the issue.  There may be some logical rationale for reducing wind loads on temporary structures, but there doesn't seem to be an approved U.S. national standard that addresses this.  There are some informal industry guidelines, but construction engineers seem to be mostly out on their own in determining reduced design loads for their temporary structures and they do so at their own risk.

RE: Temporary wind loads

There is now a national standard for Taro's original question:  ASCE 37-02, "Design Loads on Structures During Construction."  I would recommend picking it up.  Although it is a slim volume (36 pages), it covers the topic of well.

As for wind loads, it does allow a reduction.  Similar to the Australian code cited by austim, it allows factors to be applied to the basic wind speed.  Design is based on the reduced wind speed.  The factors vary based on the duration of the construction period, with a factor of 0.75 for less than 6 weeks, up to 0.9 for a 2 to 5 year duration.

This still doesn't ease my concerns with OSHA's "if it fails it is a violation" clause, but it gives us some guidance, and at least one leg to stand on.

RE: Temporary wind loads

AS practicing structural engineer who live in Florida, I always avoid specifying the ways and means on contract documents. I also believe that contractors can develop techniques and construction sequence working with their SEs. I also specify on my design documents the wind loads along with gravity loads (actually this required by the new Florida Building Code). I would never reduce the loads because the building is under construction since we are never sure when worst case wind will take place.

RE: Temporary wind loads

I had a heart-stopping experience many years ago. My brief was to be the structural engineer under an architect to install new floors in a six-story city building. The documentation made it clear - in the usual manner - that the builder was responsible for stability and wind resistance during construction.

At a routine inspection of the preparations for new footings in the basement, I discovered that the whole six floors had been gutted WITHOUT a single stitch of bracing. Looking up from the basement, I could see the top of the external walls swaying with NO WIND.

Outside this building was a busy city bus stop. There were never less than fifty people at the bus stop, and many more within range of any falling walls.

Do you think I worried about temporary wind loads? After shooting telegrams (this was before fax and email) to all possible parties - the owner, architect, council, and builder - I saw to it that none got any sleep until the bulding was braced. I mean BRACED - it would have withstood a hurricane.

So you see, discussing temporary wind loads is fine, until there is a risk of killing many people.



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