What are scaffolds?
Simply speaking, scaffolds are temporary structures or platforms raised to support workers in a construction site for accessing high areas of parts of a building. They are also used in repairs and maintenance of bridges, skyscrapers and other man- made structures, which are otherwise hard to reach.
Because of the risks lies there in, scaffolding works has to be undertaken by a person having the requisite expertise and he must possess a high class work license. Nowadays, health and safety laws have been put in place to ensure protection of the highest level and to minimize risks as much as possible at work sites. Availability of suitable controlling measures such as use of substitution, engineering controls, isolation and use of personal protective equipments are relevant steps towards mitigating possible hazards.
Materials and components used in scaffolds
The basic components used are couplers, boards and tubes.
Couplers are used in joining of tubes and the basic types of couplers used are putlog couplers, right angled couplers and swivel couplers. Putlog couplers join ledgers with board bearing transoms. Right angled couplers are used to join non-board bearing transoms. Swivel couplers are used to join tubes at any other angle.
Boards allow a working surface for scaffold workers. Apart from wood, scaffold boards are available in timber, aluminum and steel varieties. Another type of boards, called scaff- pad is used in case of uneven grounds.
Use of lightweight tubes has actually revolutionized and standardized scaffolding works. This came into practice in early ‘60s and since then has become the baseline for workers as these can be assembled easily by them without the use of nuts and bolts. Steel or aluminum is mostly used in making tubes.
Some more components used in a scaffolding work are as follows-
- A horizontal base called ledger
- Diagonal brace
- Cross section base
- A load bearing component called the transom, that holds the board, batten and the decking unit together
- Scaffold tie which is used to tie the scaffold by MrScaffold to structures.
- A load bearing base for the scaffold.
The key elements in scaffolding are ledger, transoms and standards or uprights. Ledgers are nothing but horizontal tubes that are used as connectors to the uprights. Transoms rest on the ledgers at right angles. Thus they provide support to the boards and hold the standards in place. Intermediate transoms may be used at times, if extra support is required for the boards. Upright is a vertical tube that shifts the entire weight of the structure to the ground where they spread the load by resting to a square base. In case of a more specialized work, specialized components such as transoms with heavy duty load bearing capacity and stairway units or beams that can stretch obstacles are used.
Usually, scaffold frameworks need more strength than simple base plates to carry and distribute loads in a safer way. Sole boards, stop boards and double guard rails are added to base plates for doubtful surfaces