What’s a construction site scaffolding?
The use of scaffolding dates back to prehistoric times, as evidenced by the Paleolithic caves of Lascaux in the south-west of France where the scaffolding were used by the primitives to paint their famous murals over 17,000 years ago. Used by Egyptian pharaohs for buildings associated with pyramids, in the Middle Ages, it seems that some monks were trained as skilled workers in scaffolding to build abbeys and churches. Before the introduction of metal tubes, in the early years of 1900, were widely branches and boards of wood or bamboo connected with ropes, nails and interlocking games. Among the most famous scaffolding in history, we remember the one made by Michelangelo for the construction of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The practice of using pipes tied with hemp ropes (hemp) is still used in many eastern countries. After World War II, in the programme for the reconstruction of the bombed areas throughout Europe, scaffolding became widespread.
What’s a scaffold?
A Scaffold (or scaffolding) is a provisional reticular structure (limited in time) usually provided with deck. The scaffolding is a very important part of the construction and its presence is necessary for all work at height exceeding 2 m, because it avoids the fall of men and objects from above. Scaffolding is a structure that can be made of wood, aluminum, steel etc. Used around the building to place the goods or to help workers to access its different parts.
They are very important for their function not only for the work to be processed but most of all for the protection of personnel who work on it. For these reasons, it is necessary that the installation is performed by professionals, ensuring a perfect realization according to project provided by qualified technician and which guarantees the safety of the workers who will work on the scaffolding.
Types of scaffoldings
Fixed traditional scaffoldings:
- Pipe and joint (orthogonal clamps) scaffolding
- Prefabricated scaffolding with frames
- Multidirectional scaffolding (with prefabricated pillars and sleepers)
- Mast climbing work platform (rack and pinion system)
- Suspended scaffold (wire rope scaffold)
PIPE AND JOINT SCAFFOLDING
One of the oldest systems. The scaffolding is assembled by connecting pipes through joints (clamps) and fixing them in the desired position. Highly modulable, as it allows to connect pipes of different lengths, therefore at any distance and in any position (physically possible).
Pros: use in virtually all circumstances, as it allows the adjustment of the structure any kind of facade or artifact, even with particular and irregular shapes;
Use: universal (construction, restoration, industry, entertainment, etc.) parparticularly suitable for structures with limited square meters for the laboriousness of assembly.
Cons: required skilled labour, complex documentation required
Assembly times, disassembly much longer. More complicated handling and longer control of the scaffolding’s parts due to the large number of pieces.
FIXED SCAFFOLDING WITH PREFABRICATED FRAMES
The scaffolding is assembled by connecting metal frames of standard height and depth on which the boards and railings are fixed.
Pros: its speed and ease of assembly makes it the most commonly used structure, also because assembly times are shorter and the workforce can more simply follow the project.
Use: particularly suitable for renovation and construction of buildings on land.
Cons: Scaffolding little versatile, the modules with fixed size do not allow endless configurations and the outline irregular structures.
Required skilled labour, complex documentation required
PREEFABRICATED SCAFFOLDING WITH UPRIGHTS AND SLEEPERS (RING LOCK)
The scaffolding is assembled by connecting vertical metal pipes to which is applied a “disk” with different holes in which horizontal/diagonal tubes of different sizes can be connected. It is a type of scaffolding that can be considere halfway between the prefabricated frames and the pipe and joint scaffold.
Pros: It has excellent ductility and adaptability. The assembly times are inserted in an intermediate position compared to the previous systems, la manodopera specializzata deve seguire il progetto.
Use: today widely used, particularly suitable for renovation and construction.
Cons: the purchase price is higher, handling and control of scaffolding parts are complicated and long due to the large number of pieces. Skilled labour required, extensive documentation needed.
MAST CLIMBING WORK PLATFORM
Scaffolding consisting of electric lifting units (1 or more) connected to vertical modules (column trellis) and horizontal elements (beams). Modular scaffolding that can have very small dimensions with 1 lifting unit (single mast) or important platform length with 2 lifting units (twin mast). Allows to work also on irregular structures thank to the the possibility to build telescopic parts with pipes that come out from horizontal beams, on which it is possible to build additional work plans.
Pros: these are machines designed and built according to European standards that guarantee a safety use, speed in assembly/disassembly (times are reduced by 1/3 compared to traditional scaffolding). They allow to transport people and materials. The movement is controlled by electric panel and allows you to go up and down without effort. The machining is made comfortable and fast allowing you to stop the machine exactly at the point where you need to work. They allow to reach even very high heights without proportionally increasing the installation cost. Being machines does not need extra documentation. It is possible to protect any fall of materials by applying protective valances.
Use: mainly used on higher or larger buildings
Cons: Not convenient for use on small and low structures. They do not always manage to contour any irregular shape of the structures. Truck loading/unloading is to be prearranged for handling the lifting units (approx. weight 900 kg.)
SUSPENDED SCAFFOLDING ON ROPES
Scaffolding consisting of a modular platform supported by ropes and supported by ropes. They need to have a flat structure (usually on the roof) on which to install the structure supporting the machine (beams, counterweights and fixings).
Pros: the assembly is fast as no anchors need to be applied. The weight of the platform is very low. They allow to reach heights and complex structures for their location. Ideal in all those circumstances where mounting from the bottom becomes complicated if not impossible.
Use: light maintenance, glass washing, dams.
Cons: being supported by ropes they are in continuous movement, which requires a bit of skilled manpower and a bit of daring users. They do not allow heavy loads and machining that presuppose thrust force.