Scaffolds are a safe and efficient way to complete a number of projects. They allow workers to move more freely than traditional ladders, plus they can hold multiple workers at any given height. A scaffold can also keep tools and materials closer to the work-space.
Using safety precautions when working on a scaffold is equally as important as using a ladder. One of the ways to insure safety is to use the right type of scaffold. Here is some information about what scaffolding is, followed by information on seven basic types of scaffolding.
What is Scaffolding?
A scaffold is temporary, yet sturdy structure used adjacent to a work-space. Scaffolds can provide some support to the structure being built, as well as provide a safe work-space for craftsmen. Each job may require a particular type of scaffold, or even multiple units for different aspects of the job. Here are seven common types of scaffolds.
This is the simplest type of scaffold. Trestle scaffolds are built using ladders, tripods or even sawhorses. You can safely build a trestle scaffold with a plank height of up to six-feet. This basic type of scaffold is most commonly used for interior jobs where a moving a ladder around would be less efficient than building a small platform to work off.
Standard Steel Scaffolds
This is the most common type of scaffold. You can rent or purchase individual sections or complete scaffold sets. Steel scaffold is usually steel tubes. Each section is connected at junction points.
Standard steel scaffold will have crossbars, support pins and guardrails sufficient to meet all OSHA standards for scaffold building. Additional safety equipment is available as well. While standard steel scaffold takes more time to build, it makes the job safer and simpler.
Brick and block layers commonly use this type of scaffold. For that reason, double scaffolds are often referred to as mason’s scaffolds. There are two rows of scaffolding built to enhance the scaffold strength.
Block layers, especially need a sturdier scaffold. A double scaffold can hold both the weight of multiple workers, plus the excess weight of the heavy materials used on masonry jobs. Each scaffold of the two units is often at different distances from the face of the work-space.
This is a unique type of scaffold. Cantilever scaffolding uses chains attached to what are called needles. These needles are anchor-like pins embedded into a wall adjacent to the scaffold. Cantilever scaffold gets its name from the way they are structurally built.
Erected correctly, this is a very sturdy type of scaffold, helpful in windy situations. Cantilever scaffolding is frequently used when the ground around the work-space is either very uneven or will not support a scaffold.
This type of scaffolding is also used as multi-floor buildings are erected. This type of scaffold allows workers to progress up the side of the building as each floor is completed, often working on multiple levels at one time.
Multi-Function Tower Scaffolds
This type of scaffold is often used on construction jobs. These sections of scaffold are built to be used at preset heights, with some ability to modify them. Multi-function scaffolds customarily have casters, so they are easy to move around.
Scaffold distributors will frequently refer to them as multi-function units. This is because they are factory assembled as complete scaffold units. Multi-function scaffold packages will often supply all the hardware necessary, plus aluminum planking.
This is another specialized type of scaffold. Walk-through scaffolding are designed when there is work required under the scaffold. While it isn’t recommended for workers to be active on multiple tiers at the same time, walk-through scaffold is cut so that the scaffold does not have to be moved to perform a job under the erected structure.
This is a type of scaffold that is used for jobs that are very high in the air. The structures that you see window-washers working off on skyscrapers is a suspended scaffold. Suspended scaffold is secured to the roof of the structure, and then lowered to the desired work height.
This type of scaffold can be adjusted to different heights much faster than adding levels to fixed scaffold. Suspended scaffold has a rigid set of OSHA standards governing their use. While they are extremely useful, extra caution must be used when working this type of scaffolding.
These are the seven basic types of scaffold. Remember, while scaffolding will make the work-space safer and more efficient, that can only happen when the scaffold is both well-made and properly built. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a detailed list of safety guidelines and standards for scaffolding used commercially.