Launched in 2000 to coincide with the Millenium, the London Eye is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel at 135 metres. Having won over 85 national and international tourism awards for tourism, architectural quality and engineering achievement, the London Eye is now the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction.

When we were approached by Merlin Entertainments Group in May 2016 to tender for painting works to the A Frame we were excited by the prospect. Working on an iconic structure such as this in a central London location and close to the River Thames held its fair share of challenges, not least of which was the access challenge to reach the underside of the spindle platform.

Following a detailed site visit by our estimating manager, contracts director and health and safety director, we submitted our bid in late May. Following acceptance, a detailed method statement was prepared and forwarded to the client. Minor amendments to this safe working procedure were subsequently made, following client observations, and we were ready to start work.

The team of ICATS & IPAF accredited painters arrived on site early in August together with the permanent on-site supervisor. Access to the works was via a contracted specialized truck mounted MEWP with operator. We began with a 71 meter access platform and then moved to a 45 meter machine and finally a 34 meter platform. The Loxam operative remained in the basket at all times to ensure the smooth operation of the machine and to eliminate any possible crush hazard against the fixed structure. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Schedule 3, Part 1 was strictly adhered to throughout the works, along with the relevant PUWER and LOLER regulations.

Necessary precautions were taken with regard to working on or near to water and also regarding the areas to be barricaded to restrict site entry to pedestrians and vehicles, making allowance for not simply the base structure footprint of the MEWP but rather the required outreach distances for the works.

The emergency and rescue plan was drawn up and this identified the nominated, trained Jack Tighe Ltd personnel who could lower the access platform to the ground in the event of the operator experiencing difficulties in the basket. All of our operatives held the appropriate IPAF 1b certification.

Due to the public use of the facility during daylight hours, our shift pattern began at 10.00pm and ended at 07.30am, with all equipment being removed from site at the end of each shift. Adequate lighting was provided to avoid the presence of any dark areas in or around the work areas and at ground level.

We carried out the works to the following specification with all paints being supplied by International Paints:

  • Surface preparation was achieved by high-pressure jet washing and abrading to all areas of coating breakdown to remove any loose or flaking coatings. Such areas were then feathered back to ensure a sound base.
  • Areas of sound coatings were lightly abraded to produce a key for the new paint system application.
  • Apply one spot coat of Interplus 256 to any exposed areas of bare steel.
  • Apply one full coat of Interseal 670 HS.
  • Apply one full coat of Interfine 979.

The work was completed to programme before the end of August for the quoted sum of £75,500. Jack Tighe Ltd received a very complimentary email from the Technical Operations Manager of Coca-Cola London Eye and we have recently tendered for further work on this prestigious site.

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