Although you may not realise it, scaffolding is a mechanism that has been used for centuries. The first known use of scaffolding dates back to the prehistoric era, this is known because there are still visible holes in the caves of Lascaux, Southwest France. The scaffold mechanism would have been used to for the occupants of the caves to enscript on the walls and are still visible some 17,000 later. In the medieval era, specialised monks were trained as scaffolders to build abbeys and construct churches – a trend that played out until the 20th century with scaffolder monks continuing to build some of the UK’s finest Abbey’s – including Buckfast Abbey built in 1930.
Types of scaffolding have existed for almost as long as people have been building. Any kind of building that extended at greater lengths than human reach, always required some kind of scaffolding to facilitate the construction of it and continue building upwards. Other types of building required scaffolding to ensure builders and other traders can work safely. Those who work in construction have been evolving and developing scaffolding for thousands of years, all in the name of creating safe structures at a minimal cost. Bearing this in mind, the importance of scaffolding cannot be underestimated. Thousands of iconic world landmarks would not exist without scaffolding, moreover neither would almost any type of building. With this in mind, read on to discover the importance of scaffolding and how whether you’re building a suburban house or a skyscraper, without selecting the right type of safe and quality scaffolding, you may encounter some major issues.
Safety for scaffolders
The reason that scaffolding has been in existence for so long, is due to the many benefits it has in making a building project run as smoothly and safely as possible. Using scaffolding puts builders exactly where they need to be; ensuring they can safely work within a wider and stronger surface area. Safety should be a priority on any building site, a safe and well functioning scaffold offers you peace of mind and creates a secure workplace for construction workers. Another point being that if the if building work is taking place within a public vicinity, essential safety equipment such as barrier netting and herace fence tarps also benefit pedestrians and the public ensuring that nothing potentially falls on them.
Another significant factor considered when using scaffolding is that scaffolding gives workers a flat stable platform to work on, and allows for workers to be present on the scaffolding at various platforms. This will increase the speed of a project and ultimately make it more cost effective. By the very nature of being a scaffolder, you’ll provide service on many kinds of construction projects and scaffolding is always essential. The kinds of projects you could work on will vary massively, anything ranging from factories, houses, roads or bridges. But one thing is consistent and that is – safety. For a professional scaffolder, it’s essential that you meet the required specifications of Work At Height Regulations Act 2005.
As previously highlighted, the key risk factors involved with working on construction scaffolding involve, falling from the structure or materials dropping off on the scaffolding onto people below. The scaffolding company as well as the self employed have an obligation to manage and maintain the safety of a project. The potential risks of working on scaffolding have to be identified and minimized in order for the whole operation to run effectively.
Some of the main areas of health and safety that must be implemented are:
- The appropriate use of handrails, toe guards and edge protection. (All implemented to reduce the risk of falling.)
- Installing stable platforms to adequately withhold the weight of workers and their equipment.
- A thorough scaffolding inspection report carried out prior to the work beginning.
- All workers who are present to erect the scaffolding must be fully competent working at ‘at height’ regulations.
Beneficial to productivity
Not only is scaffolding beneficial to the safety of a project, but can also aid productivity by decreasing lost work time from potential accidents, by maximising employees peace of mind and overall morale. Studies of ‘in time and motion’ on building sites have indicated that builders are much more productive when they are level with the work they are doing. If the workers are in the position that they need to be, they will spend a lot less time stretching and stooping – going up and down ladders to get to where they need to be. Productivity is an important factor for any employer, but particularly in regard to scaffolding, it’s an increasingly pressing concern as contractors aim to be competitive in relation to more labour intensive methods- scaffolding is one of the key areas where you can actively make a concerted effort to aid productivity.
When it comes to selecting the right kind of scaffolding for you, it’s essential that you know what you need prior to going into the project. Regional variations can have a significant impact on the overall price, while the size and the length of time the scaffolding is needed will also be reflected in the initial quote you will receive. The average length of time most people hire scaffolding for is six to eight weeks. If you’re project is expected to be a little longer, you may have to pay an additional weekly rental rate from that point onwards. Location is also dependent on the price of your scaffolding, for example if you’re working in a busy metropolitan area or city, your scaffolding is likely to cost more than it would a quiet, residential area. In terms of pricing, another key factor to consider is if you need any special requirements. These kinds of requirements could include having to bridge a gap over a over a driveway or conservatory. This wouldn’t be an issue if you have specialist equipment, however it will most likely cost you slightly more. Another brief point to consider is – what is the height of your scaffolding? The higher you need to go, will also attribute to the overall costs. This includes having to scale a narrow alley or place footings in public areas.
The kind of service a scaffolding company can provide is vast and is largely dependant on your needs. You can get your scaffolding structure designed for you, and a good, reliable scaffolding firm can provide the necessary guidance for construction workers on how to safely erect the scaffolding. If time is of the essence and you have concerns about how long it is going to take to get the scaffolding structure down, many scaffolding businesses will provide a disassembly service, this can be factored in to your initial quote. This is essential in giving you the clarity of being completely clear on your ensuing costs and removes the fear of going drastically over budget.
DH Scaffolding Ltd, based in Sheffield, is a specialist scaffolding design company who are dedicated to providing a quality, and cost effective service. With years of industry experience, we understand the importance of having your construction project run as safely and smoothly as possible. With countless satisfied customers, we provide an on site service where we will happily visit the site of your project and discuss your requirements with you or your client. Please get in touch to speak to our friendly team and receive a free quote, or fill out one of our design request forms and we’ll get back to you asap.