Construction is something you see going on around you every day, it includes building new homes or commercial offices, cleaning and repair work. But, often these jobs are high up and the construction team need some added help getting to the correct level to complete the work they have been hired to do. This is why scaffolds exist. They not only help workers, but they also ensure the building they are working on is stable. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about scaffolds.
What are scaffolds?
Scaffolds are temporary structures put up in order to support, or provide access to working platforms. The primary aim of these working structures is to give workers have a safe and stable area to work when building or construction has to be completed above ground level. These platforms are commonly used in construction today and it is rare to walk past a building site that it not making use of one. There are, however, many different types of working platform; each design has its own primary purpose and a job it is designed for. Furthermore, all working platforms are made up of different components to ensure that they are safe and durable.
What are they made from?
Each scaffold is comprised of three basic parts; tubes, boards and couplers. Firstly, the tubes are generally made from aluminium or steel and come in a range of different lengths. Couplers, however, are the fittings that join these tubes together, and the boards are wooden that make up the work surface. Considering the specific construction site and project needs, other materials may sometimes be added to the structure. These materials include base plates, ropes, anchor ties, and ladders. In other countries, different materials are used to create these working platforms; for example, in India and Hong Kong, bamboo is a common material used instead of steel or aluminium. These structures make use of nylon straps to hold everything in place instead of couplers or wires. Working platforms are durable, long lasting and effective, this is the main reason why they are still used on building sites today.
What are the different types?
There are several different types of scaffolding that helps all types of workers reach different heights. Each job requires a different type of working platform, therefore various job requirements need to be met. Working platforms can be divided into three main types, these are; self supported, suspended and aerial.
- Self supported working platforms are set on the ground and attached with wheels. These self supported scaffolds ensure that flexibility is possible, this is due to the fact that it is the only type that offers the option to be grounded, or to be mobile. This is one form of working platform that is comprised of frames, poles, lumbers and pipes. In order to get onto this form of working structure, builders or workers will usually have to climb a ladder to mount it, then get to the middle section. In the middle section of the structure, it is possible to carry out extreme construction jobs without any harm.
- The second frequently used type of working platform is known as suspended. As the name suggests, this scaffold is not fixed to the floor, but instead hangs from an overhead modular structure, and is suspended in the air with ropes. These working platforms have switches, pulleys and levers so that the worker is able to move the platform up and down. This makes it very easy to work on vertical buildings, such as skyscrapers’ and ensures they can reach every surface of the building. As a result of this, these working structures are often used for repair or cleaning work, one common use is window cleaning on commercial buildings.
- Aerial structures are used when it is essential to be lifted to different locations. This type of working platform is also a mounted device and has the ability to reach different heights with ease. Due to this, it is often seen in use by builders who are working on several levels of a house or building. In order to ensure this structure is safe, shackles are often needed, these prevent the structure from detaching from the hook that carries the lift.
These three different types of working platform allow builders and construction workers the flexibility to complete whatever job they are hired for. It is clear that the is no one variation that suits all jobs, so it is important for construction workers to understand the job they need to complete and choose the correct working platform to assist with the task.
Are scaffolds safe?
Although these working structures sound precarious, they are actually designed to be incredibly safe, and often hold several different workers and their equipment at one time. However, if used improperly, they can become dangerous, so it is essential to follow the correct safety procedures.
Fergus Murray is the lead editor for Business News Ledger. Fergus has been working as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade having published stories in the New York Times, The Plain Dealer, The Daily Mail and many others. Fergus is based in Detroit and covers issues affecting his city and New York State. When he is not busy writing, Fergus enjoys jogging.