How to Raise and Use a Scaffold

   It may seem to be easy to erect and use scaffolding, but there are thousands of accidents caused each year by those who do not know how to erect scaffolding safely. Make sure that you know how to erect scaffolding safely before you undertake any building or maintenance works that require the use of scaffolding. If you don’t know how to erect scaffolding, always ask a professional in order to avoid accidents.

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Do not forget, it shall be the responsibility of the person supervising the erection of the scaffold to see that all components and locking devices are in working order, and no damaged or deteriorated equipment is used in the setup.

However, the work of erecting the scaffolding should be under the supervision of a person with proper experience and aptitude for securing a safe installation and who is familiar with all regulations concerning scaffolding.

The most common type of scaffold, or pipe staging, in the US and Canada is a steel tube frame scaffold erected on the outside of a building. Scaffolding can be built to reach the upper level of a single story building, or as high as the upper floors of a skyscraper.

The biggest benefit of using scaffolding is the larger work area and mobility it offers over that of a ladder. It provides a platform for walking and for setting all your tools. This cuts work time drastically.

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1. Advanced planning will help the erection of scaffolding to progress smoothly. The equipment should be unloaded as close to the area of use as possible and should be arranged in the order it is to be used.

2. Prepare the foundation. Level the ground where you plan to erect scaffolding as much as possible. Put steel base pads on an end or two of the frame sides as required.

One of the main concerns here is to have the scaffolding level and on secure ground. If you are on unlevel ground, you may need to dig down to make the dirt level in any high corner.

You can use also, the adjusting screws on the scaffolding to level the structure. Adjustment screws should be set to their approximate final adjustment before setting up the scaffolding.

3. If you plan on moving your scaffolding to work on various spots, include casters in your scaffolding setup. Remember to lock the casters when you get it into place.

4. Stand the first section. Have a helper stand one of the frame sides on its base pads and connect the braces to both sides of it with the locking pins. Stand up the other frame side and attach the braces to it.

After erecting the first tier of scaffold frames, plumb and level (using instruments) all frames so that no matter how high the final scaffolding setup, the additional frames will also be in correct alignment.

5. Stabilize and support the bases. Place a 1-foot length of 2 by 10 plank under each base pad. Nail the base pads to the footer boards by hammering 8-penny nails through the holes in the pads.

6. Stabilize the staging level to prevent workers from losing balance and falling. Lay a plank on the upper platform supports and check it with a level. Use screw jacks between the base pads and the framing tubes to correct any imbalance.

However, as erection proceeds, securely tie all scaffolding to the structure at the ends and at least every 30′ horizontally, and at height intervals not to exceed 4 times the minimum base dimension.

7. Lay out a sturdy platform that will hold the weight of workers and construction supplies. Aluminum or framed plywood decks are available that lock onto scaffold supports. Lay planks on the support bars with no more than an inch between the boards.

8. If ladders are used to access the scaffold, use ones that are designed for that specific scaffold. Stair-like ladders can be used to access the scaffold but must have handrails and treading. A concern with the access point is to make it safe to maneuver and to prevent the scaffold from tipping over.

9. Check again thoroughly the scaffolding setup to make sure all pieces are secure. Re-inspect the scaffold system every time you leave the site and return to it to make sure it is still safe.

10. When placing materials on the platforms, you should always take particular care so that the decks and platforms do not become overloaded with equipment and materials.