Scaffolding towers, much like ladders, come in many different shapes and sizes. Each type of tower scaffolding has its own specific purpose and strengths which can be specific to a variety of work situations.
The main features of tower scaffolding which make it a superior alternative to ladders for many worksites is its height and stability. Because standard ladders are narrow and only have two legs, they can be unsafe when used in situations which require higher reach or support for heavier equipment.
Generally, scaffold towers come with four legs and a much stronger frame thanks to additional support struts and crossbeams. A wider footing allows these structures to be built and used safely at greater heights than normal ladders. Guard rails and strong working surfaces also allow users to safely operate equipment with both hands at height.
Because each different type of scaffolding tower is designed with a different purpose in mind, it can be hard to know which should be used in any given circumstance. Below we’ve outlined some of the main types of tower scaffolding, what they’re good at and how to recognise them.
Although not strictly a form of scaffolding tower, suspended scaffolding performs much the same function. Instead of being supported by legs, suspended scaffolding is often used to suspend platforms for jobs such as window cleaning from the top of tall buildings.
Many high-rise buildings have small cranes which can be used to suspend and lower window cleaning platforms. In the case of construction sites, temporary suspended scaffolding systems can be installed to lift building materials to the top of the structure or allow workers to work against the side.
A suspended scaffold can also be a good alternative for use in situations where the ground surface is unsuitable for erecting a normal tower scaffold.
Standard tower scaffolding
Standard tower scaffolding comes in many different configurations. Whilst older forms of scaffolding frequently used wood for toe boards and certain frame components, modern scaffolding towers are mainly constructed of metal to ensure maximum strength and reliability.
One of the most important aspects of a safe scaffolding platform is the ground it is built upon. Mudsills are the first component to be laid down and will often come in the form of wooden planking. They are attached to base plates at the bottom of the scaffold uprights, which will usually have some sort of jack mechanism to fine tune the elevation of the scaffold depending on the ground surface. The purpose of the mudsills and base plates is to spread the downwards force of the scaffold over a wider surface area to give the structure a firmer footing.