What is scaffolding?
Scaffolding is a temporary structure, which supports the original structure. It is used from builders as a platform for carrying out the construction works.
Varying from the type of construction work, there are several types of scaffolding used by scaffolding companies, considering the scaffolding should be stable and strong for supporting the workers and whatever building material it’s placed on it. The types of scaffolding used in construction in UK are as follows:
- Steel scaffolding
- Suspended scaffolding
- Trestle scaffolding
- Double scaffolding
- Single scaffolding
- Cantilever scaffolding
This not-so-cheap but better-safe-than-sorry scaffold is built by steel pipes, which are fastened together by steel joints or fittings. They make the steel scaffolding very easy to build or dismantle, by ensuring greater resistance, durability and fire resistance altogether. Considering that it gives workers so much security, it’s a widely used scaffold nowadays.
Suspended scaffolding is usually used for repair, pointing, painting works etc. Here, the work platform, with the help of wire or chains ropes etc., is suspended from the roofs and it and be lowered or raised to the required level.
The work platform it’s arranged on brackets, which can be adjustable to our required level. It’s available on the market, ready-made scaffold from steel, equipped with special frames, joints etc.
Also known as “mason’s scaffold” this type is generally used for stone masonry. Since stone walls make it quite difficult to open holes in them, two rows of scaffolding get built to ensure strength.
Otherwise known as “bricklayer scaffold”, single scaffolding is used predominantly for brick masonry.
There are two types of cantilever scaffolding. We have single-framed scaffolding: in this scaffold, the standards are supported on a set of needles which come out from the holes in the walls. And then there’s independent scaffolding or double type of frame: in this scaffold, the needles are pushed inside the floors through the openings.
Habitually, cantilever scaffolding is used either when the terrain can’t support the standards, when the top of the wall is under construction or when the ground near the wall must be free from traffic.
Dos’ and don’ts when erecting scaffolding systems
40% of all fatal accidents under construction each year consist of fall hazards, making it the leading cause of construction worker deaths. As such. It’s important to work on a scaffolding that was built by professionals, supervised properly by a competent person, and inspected thoroughly before use.
It’s just as much important for each worker to be trained excessively on safe working practices, and for them to be equipped each with adequate protective equipment. There are some advices you should follow when it comes to scaffolding, and below you will find a list of dos’ and don’ts.
What to do:
- Proper training. Training must include risks and procedures for dealing with such risk such as falling, identification of electrocution, fall of risk objects and the correct use of scaffolding, managing its materials and load capacities. It must be performed by a qualified person.
- Retraining. When the type of scaffolding, fall protection or falling objects changes, or when additional risks arise due to changes in the workplace it might be required from you to receive additional training. And also, in case your employer deems it reasonable that your initial training wasn’t properly maintained.
- Inspection. It’s important to check if a competent person has inspected the scaffolding before you climb on it and made sure that it’s safe to use and in perfect working order (the scaffolding can be assembled, disassembled, modified or moved under the direct supervision of a competent person by trained personnel). If you feel unsure about the safety provided, you have to check with a supervisor.
- Use Safety tools. While working under or around a scaffold always wear your helmet and also use a pair of non-slippery and sturdy work boots and even consider using tool cords.
- Stay Alert with Workers around you. Stay alert at all times of colleagues who work below and above you. You must stop what you’re doing and immediately notify a supervisor if you witness improper use around or on a scaffold.
What to not do:
- Leave anything on the scaffold after your shift ends. Whether it’s a building tool or material you’ve used while you were working, it’s important to remove them from the scaffolding, because it might fall from the scaffolding or be a tripping hazard for whoever uses the scaffolding after you.
- Overload the scaffolding. Every scaffolding structure has an emancipated load that it can withhold. Proper training includes information about the load-carrying capacity, and in most cases, it should be able to support a minimum of four times the expected maximum load.
- Use ladders or boxes to reach a certain height. If you can’t reach an area, the supervisor should lift the scaffolding platform. You shouldn’t use stilts unless their height is equal to the guardrails on the scaffolding.
- Use the scaffolding if it’s damaged in any way: If the scaffolding has been tampered with or if components such as planking, protective canopies, railings or debris nets are missing, immediately notify a supervisor. The supervisor must ensure that it works perfectly and that it’s inspected by a competent person. Don’t attempt to repair the scaffold yourself unless you were trained for it during its erection.
- Walk on a scaffolding covered in: mud, snow or ice, even worn wooden planking which can also be very slippery when wet. Every debris should be removed before you use the scaffold and avoid working in extreme weather conditions (heavy rain, sleet, frozen snow, strong wind)
- Climb on parts unintended for climbing. For accessing the work platform, always use an integrated ladder, an internal access ladder or a fixed ladder. A foothold should always be above the scaffold platform. The materials must be hoisted separately on the scaffolding; thus, you should never climb with the materials or tools in hand.