Scaffolding is a safe alternative to a ladder when working up high, for example, painting the exterior walls of a multi-story building. Scaffolding has always been the work platform of choice used by window washers on high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. Scaffolding can also be used effectively around the home for many projects. The key to successful scaffold use is making sure to adjust the different scaffold components to ensure safe operation.
If you don’t want to invest in making your own scaffolding, which can be costly, present storage challenges and possibly sit idle for long periods of time until used again, consider renting scaffolding as needed.
Start with the Base
Several adjustments need to be considered and made when assembling your scaffolding starting with the base. The base adjustments are very important, especially if the structure sits on a soft surface like dirt or grass. Whenever possible, rent scaffolding that has adjustable base plates to help attain a level working operation. If not, several steps need to be taken to ensure stability.
- Level the surface area with a shovel using fill dirt to create a straight and level foundation area.
- Place 2 by 10 lumber blocks under each scaffold foot instead of directly placing the scaffolding on the ground.
- Using a level, check to make sure your set-up is straight.
- Use scrims inserting these between the 2 by 10 lumber blocks and the scaffolding base plates until you obtain a leveled structure.
If your scaffolding comes with an adjustable base plate, make sure all the adjustable screws are in working condition so assembly is easy to do. Do not use bricks or cinder blocks under the frame legs to make leveling adjustments. You may need to rent leg extensions if scaffold assembly covers a sloped area. Adjusting to sloped areas may require additional scaffold sections to meet the required height where the work area is located.
Tighten All Bolts and Screws
After assembling all frames and braces, go back over each joint, adjust the tightening to ensure nothing comes loose. Pay particular attention to any load-bearing areas or high-traffic sections that might come loose with activity. It’s a good idea to periodically check all fasteners during the term of operation. Bolts, screws and other fasteners can come loose with wear and tear, creating a safety hazard. Inspect your scaffolding periodically.
Check All Components
When your scaffolding arrives from the rental center, inspect all components checking for any defects that might require replacement. Make sure to check planking for any cracks, splits or other damage that would present a dangerous situation. Inspect all bolts and screws and bracing materials, making sure they can operate correctly and are capable of being adjusted when and if necessary. Remember to install cross braces in an “X” configuration to create extra support. Never climb up bracers to reach a working platform. Make sure a ladder assembly is installed at one end of the scaffolding to gain access to work platforms.