Formwork a Practical Guide

Formwork a Practical Guide

Amongst the many trades on a typical building site, the role and responsibilities of the
formworker are unique. There are few restrictions placed on his choice of working
techniques. In contrast, other trades are constrained by the most precise directions. For
the structural steelwork all sizes, connections, fixings and painting are defined in detail.
Reinforcement grades, sizes, positions, laps and tolerances are all predetermined. Joinery
is exhaustively detailed, colour schemes are prescribed, and furnishings selected.
Compared to this, the formworker is almost permitted to be a free spirit. Most times,
the only constraints are mandatory requirements on the concrete surface quality and
accuracy, together with the builder’s demands on cost and time. Outside this, he chooses
his own formwork system, selects his materials and components, and devises the general
arrangement and the details of construction.

Three general principles govern formwork design and construction:
These three matters are not separate and unrelated. Experienced formworkers know that it
is a false economy to reduce quality. Further, if the formworker feels safe, this will lead to
more production and thus reduced costs.
Throughout this book, even if they are not specifically mentioned, these three principles
are fundamental to all the matters described. In this chapter their further discussion will
relate ‘Quality’ to the quality of the concrete structure being produced, ‘Safety’ to both
personal safety and formwork loading, and ‘Economy’ to the matters that affect the total
effective cost of formwork and the contribution of this to the total cost of the concrete
The activity of formwork construction, its concreting and subsequent stripping, can
also have a significant loading effect on the permanent concrete structure being built. The
design engineer for the permanent structure may place restrictions on the formworkers
activities. The formworker must ensure that full INFORMATION has been supplied on
these and any other requirements that will influence the materials, methods of use and
quality of the formwork.


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