Scaffolding Definition: Types, Parts, Design, and Hazards of Scaffolding

The term Scaffolding is related to construction and education. In education, scaffolding means breaking the complete learning into small chunks and learn easily using various tools, techniques, and structured way. However, in the context of this article, we are interested in exploring the term scaffolding with respect to the construction industry. Let’s start with the scaffolding definition.

Scaffolding Definition

During construction, maintenance, or repairing work, to support the work crew and materials, temporary structures are built. These temporary structures are called Scaffolding. Scaffolding helps in access at heights and widely used in all types of construction works. This impermanent structure works as a platform to support the working class to perform its construction activities. As scaffolding involves work at height, it is designed following safety regulations to reduce hazards. Surveys show that a major percentage of accidents in construction industries are directly or indirectly related to scaffolding. So, the scaffolding contractor and scaffolding workers should perform their duties with the utmost care. High-quality materials should be used for scaffolding design.

Scaffolding for Tank Construction and Erection
Scaffolding for Tank Construction and Erection

Scaffolding Parts or Components

The major components of scaffolding are as follows:

  • Standards: Perpendicular tubes that transfer the weight load to the baseplates. To increase the height of scaffolding, standards are connected using pins and socket joints.
  • Ledgers: Flat horizontal tubes that join between the standards. Ledgers connect multiple bays. Ledgers decide the height of the working platform.
  • Transom or Bearer: Transoms are used to support standards and they are at the right angles to the ledgers. Transoms define the bay width
  • Scaffolding Tubes: Steel or Aluminium tubes used in scaffolding.
  • Couplers: Fittings to hold tubes together. They are of three types; Putlog Coupler, Swivel Couplers, and Right Angle Couplers.
  • Diagonal Braces: Strengthen the basic structure to carry more loads.
  • Boards: Steel, Aluminium, or wooden boards that provide the working area.
  • Base Plates
  • Guard Rails
  • Putlogs: Putlogs are transverse members that are placed one end on ledgers and other ends right angles on the wall.
Basic Scaffolding Parts
Basic Scaffolding Parts

Scaffolding Types

Depending on the type of construction and its requirements to meet various job applications, the Scaffolding structure varies. Broadly, the following scaffolding types are used in the construction industry:

  • Cantilever Scaffolding
  • Trestle Scaffolding
  • Single Scaffolding
  • Double Scaffolding
  • Steel Scaffolding
  • Suspended Scaffolding
  • Kwikstage Scaffolding

Cantilever Scaffolding

Cantilever scaffolding is widely used where the ground surface is not suitable for setting up of conventional scaffolding. Cantilever Scaffolding or needle scaffolding is highly effective when maintenance or construction is needed at great height or when the project has space constraints. A group of cantilever or needle beams are used to reinforce cantilever scaffolding. Cantilever scaffolding is also known as Single frame scaffolding.

Cantilever scaffolding
Typical Cantilever Scaffolding

A cantilever scaffolding normally constitutes of the following components:

  • A Platform
  • Toe Boards
  • Protective rails

Trestle Scaffolding

Trestle Scaffolding is a highly popular movable scaffolding that can be used up to a height of 5 m. They are fitted with wheels and can be transferred from one place to another very easily. They are used for light-duty works, normally for indoor works.

Trestle scaffolding
Trestle scaffolding

Single Scaffolding

Single Scaffolding is made of only one row. A series of vertical members are fixed into the ground parallel to the structure being made. Normally, a single scaffolding is used for building construction. This is also known as the brick layer’s scaffolding.

Double Scaffolding

Double scaffolding is much stronger than single scaffolding. They are also popular as the independent scaffolding as two rows of scaffolds is put together that create an independent strong structure. Double Scaffolding is commonly used in stone masonry.

Single and Double Scaffolding
Single and Double Scaffolding

Steel Scaffolding

Steel scaffolding is costly scaffolding but provides greater strength and durability and more resistance. In the process and power piping industries, steel scaffolding is widely used. As the name denotes, the material used is steel in steel scaffolding which can be erected and dismantled quickly. Steel scaffolding is suitable and safe for working at great heights. For big construction works steel scaffolding is preferred over other types.

Suspended Scaffolding

As the name says, these scaffolding are suspended using ropes or chains from overhead structures. Mainly used for for repair and painting works, suspended scaffolding provides greater range of mobility as their working height is adjustable depending on height requirement.

Suspended Scaffolding

Kwik-stage Scaffolding

This Scaffolding system uses galvanized steel and very easy to assemble or disintegrate. They provide a strong and safe scaffolding system and hence highly popular in both big and small construction works.

Scaffolding Design

As Scaffolding involves the safety of working professionals it must be designed with utmost care. The design of the scaffold should consider the following:

  • The supporting structure should be sufficient in strength, stability, and rigidity;
  • The safety of personnel associated in the erection, alteration, and dismantling of the scaffold; the safety of persons using the scaffold; and the safety of persons in the vicinity of the scaffold

The following information are required for designing scaffold.

  1. The location of the Site.
  2. Time Period for the scaffolding to be erected.
  3. Intended use of the scaffolding.
  4. Length and Height.
  5. Maximum working loads.
  6. Nature of surrounding supporting structure; etc.

The following codes and standards are used for design of scaffolding
NZS 3404.1, NZS 3603, AS 1538, AS 1664, AS 1554.1, AS 1665 or NZS 4701, as appropriate.

Scaffolding design should consider the worst load combination expected during its service period. Dead (Weight of Structural members), Live loads (Weight of Persons), and Occasional loads (wind, earthquake, snow, etc)to be considered.

To avoid cracking of the floor the beam deflection must be limited within 1/360 of the span. Scaffolding where heavy loads are expected must be checked for this deflection criteria.

Scaffolding Hazards and Risks

Working in scaffolding is full of risks. Scaffolding hazard increases with an increase in height. Studies represent that more than 65% of the construction workforce needs to work on scaffolds. Various incidents confirm the high frequency of scaffolding hazards. The major scaffolding hazards are:

  • Falls from scaffolding due to improper guardrail installation.
  • The collapse of the scaffold due to improper erection.
  • Falling Material from scaffolds makes the nearby region vulnerable to hazards.
  • Electrical hazards due to improper planning.
  • Slips and falls from planks
  • Overloading platforms.
  • Rolling scaffolds.

That’s why it is always suggested to inspect the scaffolding each day before starting the construction work. Many organizations use a standard checklist to ensure the scaffolding is suitable for working before work begins. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for such checklists.

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

One thought on “Scaffolding Definition: Types, Parts, Design, and Hazards of Scaffolding

  1. Anup,
    Your writings are very informative and focus on subjects which one can’t find everywhere.
    I have been working in Piping since 1973 and have seen many more things than I can remember but you always make me learn both technical and practical items.

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