What is it like to be on a Swing Stage?

Posted by E.V. Thompson on Oct 6, 2017

On the job with our sign installers

Most of the time you don't see them. You see their machines, their partners, their barricades, but you don't often see THEM. They are the ones harnessed high above the ground, to buckets and ropes and platforms.

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They are the high rise sign installers

Like their counterparts who keep windows sparkling and who construct tall buildings, the high rise installers are a special breed of skill, talent and guts.

They have the technical skills of an electrician and the grace of a climber. And most wouldn't trade the wide openness of being strapped to the side of a building for the four walls of an office for anything.  

"I get to see the city differently than most people." -- Bob Richards, high rise installer

"I like the challenge of working off a swing stage," says Lemberg installer Bob Richards. "It keeps me sharp and I get to see the city differently than most people."

Lemberg's crew of sign installers recently took us via video up on a swing stage to their sign installation point on the 411 building in Milwaukee. They were 17 stories up in this video but this is not the highest or the tightest quarters they've ever worked in.  The team is used to solving problems on the fly and making the most of every inch of space.

The high rise team is always backed by a highly skilled ground crew and crane operator that makes certain the installers have what they need. Communicating via radio, the teams work to seamlessly raise and place signs. 

VonBriesen-ground.jpgThe perspective from the ground is completely different from the view up on a high rise. Here we compare to advantages just to give you an idea.  

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There is plenty of lead work that happens prior to a installation of this magnitude, from road closures to equipment rentals. Wind, weather, permits, events in the surrounding area -- all affect the installation timeline. It's a planned operation with a lot of moving parts that require close coordination, but it delivers a great sense of pride. 

"It’s a great feeling," says Richards, "to drive by projects like these and be able to say, 'I did that!'"

Lemberg's installation team participates in regular training to improve safety awareness, maintain OSHA compliance and prevent damage. The team recently completed the City of Chicago Department of Buildings approved training course for this type of work. The 10-hour, hands-on training resulted in certification for each attendee and included rigging, inspection, fall protection and swing stage operation and rescue. 

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