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Scaffolding, also called scaffold or staging, is a temporary structure used to support a work crew and

materials to aid in the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings, bridges and all other man
made structures.

Scaffolds are widely used on site to get access to heights and areas that would be otherwise hard to get
to. Unsafe scaffolding has the potential to result in death or serious injury. Scaffolding is also used in
adapted forms for formwork and shoring, grandstand seating, concert stages, access/viewing
towers,exhibition stands, ski ramps, half pipes and art projects.

There are five main types of scaffolding used worldwide today. These are Tube and Coupler (fitting)
components, prefabricated modular system scaffold components, H-frame facade modular system
scaffolds, timber scaffolds and bamboo scaffolds (particularly in China). Each type is made from several
components which often include:

A base jack or plate which is a load-bearing base for the scaffold. The standard, the upright component
with connector joins. The ledger, a horizontal brace. The transom, a horizontal cross-section load-
bearing component which holds the batten, board, or decking unit.

Brace diagonal and/or cross section bracing component. Batten or board decking component used to
make the working platform. Coupler, a fitting used to join components together. Scaffold tie, used to tie
in the scaffold to structures. Brackets, used to extend the width of working platforms. Specialized
components used to aid in their use as a temporary structure often include heavy duty load stairway
units for the ingress and egress of the scaffold, beams ladder/unit types used to span obstacles and
rubbish chutes used to remove unwanted materials from the scaffold or construction project.


17,000 years ago. The Berlin Foundry Cup depicts scaffolding in ancient Greece (early 5th century BC).
Egyptians, Nubians and Chinese are also recorded as having used scaffolding-like structures to build tall
buildings. Early scaffolding was made of wood and secured with rope knots.

Modern era

In days gone by, scaffolding was erected by individual firms with wildly varying standards and sizes.
Scaffolding was revolutionized by Daniel Palmer Jones and David Henry Jones.

Modern day scaffolding standards, practices and processes can be attributed to these men and their
companies. With Daniel being the better known and patent applicant and holder for many scaffold
components still in use today see inventor:"Daniel Palmer-Jones" . He is considered the grandfather of
Scaffolding. The history of scaffolding being that of the Jones brothers and their company's Patent Rapid
Scaffold Tie Company Ltd, Tubular Scaffolding Company and Scaffolding Great Britain Ltd (SGB). David
the "Scaffixer", a coupling Palmer-Jones patented device far more robust than rope which revolutionized
scaffolding construction. In 1913, his company was commissioned for the reconstruction of Buckingham
Palace, during which his Scaffixer gained much publicity. Palmer-Jones followed this up with the
improved "Universal Coupler" in 1919 - this soon became the industry standard coupling and has
remained so to this day. Or as Daniel would say “Be it known that I, DANIEL PALMER JONES,
manufacturer, subject of the King of England, residing at 124 Victoria Street Westminster, London,
England, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Devices for Gripping, Fastening, or
Locking Purposes” segment from a patent application. With the advancements in metallurgy throughout
the early 20th century. Saw the introduction of tubular steel water pipes (instead of timber poles) with
standardized dimensions, allowing for the industrial interchangeability of parts and improving the
structural stability of the scaffold. The use of diagonal bracings also helped to improve stability,
especially on tall buildings. The first frame system was brought to market by SGB in 1944 and was used
extensively for the postwar reconstruction.

Scaffolding today

The European Standard, BS EN12811-1, specifies performance requirements and methods of structural
and general design for access and working scaffolds.

Requirements given are for scaffold structures that rely on the adjacent structures for stability. In
general these requirements also apply to other types of working scaffolds. The purpose of a working
scaffold is to provide a safe

working platform and access suitable for work crews to carry out their work. The European Standard
sets out performance requirements for working scaffolds. These are substantially independent of the
materials of which the scaffold is made. The standard is intended to be used as the basis for enquiry and


The basic components of scaffolding are tubes, couplers The basic lightweight tube scaffolding that
became the standard and revolutionised scaffolding, becoming the baseline for decades, was invented
and marketed in the mid-1950s. With one basic 24 pound unit a scaffold of various sizes and heights
could be assembled easily by a couple of labourers without the nuts or bolts previously needed.

Tubes are usually made either of steel or aluminium, although there is composite scaffolding, which uses
filament-wound tubes of glass fibre in a nylon or polyester matrix, because of the high cost of composite
tube, it is usually only used when there is a risk from overhead electric cables that cannot be isolated. If
steel, they are either 'black' or galvanised. The tubes come in a variety of lengths and a standard
diameter of 48.3 mm.

The chief difference between the two types of metal tubes is the lower weight of aluminium tubes (1.7
kg/m as opposed to4 kg/m). However they are more flexible and have a lower resistance to stress.
Tubes are generally bought in 6.3m lengths and can then be cut down to certain typical sizes.

Most large companies will brand their tubes with their name and address in order to deter theft. Boards
provide a working surface for scaffold users. They are seasoned wood and come in three thicknesses (38
mm (usual), 50 mm and63 mm) are a standard width (225 mm) and are a maximum of 3.9 m long. The
board ends are protected either by metal plates called hoop irons or sometimes nail plates, which often
have the company name stamped into them. Timber scaffold boards in the UK should comply with the
requirements of BS 2482. As well as timber, steel or aluminium decking is used, as well as laminate
boards. In addition to the boards for the working platform, there are sole boards which are placed
beneath the scaffolding if the surface is soft or otherwise suspect, although ordinary boards can also be

Another solution, called a scaffpad, is made from a rubber base with a base plate moulded inside; these
are desirable for use on uneven ground since they adapt, whereas sole boards may split and have to be

Couplers are the fittings which hold the tubes together. The most common are called A short section of
steel scaffold tube. scaffold couplers, and there are three basic types: rightangle couplers, putlog
couplers and swivel couplers. To join tubes end-to-end joint pins (also called spigots) or sleeve couplers
are used. Only right angle couplers and swivel couplers can be used to fix tube in a 'load-bearing
connection'. Single couplers are not load-bearing couplers and have no design capacity. Other common
scaffolding components include base plates, ladders, ropes, anchor ties, reveal ties, gin wheels,
sheeting, etc. Most companies will adopt a specific colour to paint the scaffolding with, in order that
quick visual identification can be made in case of theft. All components that are made from metal can be
painted but items that are wooden should never be painted as this could hide defects. Despite the
metric measurements given, many scaffolders measure tubes and boards in imperial units, with tubes
from 21 feet down and boards from 13 ft down. Bamboo scaffolding is widely used in Hong Kong and
Macau, with nylon straps tied into knots as couplers. In India, bamboo or other wooden scaffolding is
also mostly used, with poles being lashed together using ropes made from coconut hair (coir).

Basic scaffolding

The key elements of the scaffolding are the standard, ledger and transoms. The standards, also called
uprights, are the vertical tubes that transfer the entire mass of the structure to the ground where they
rest on a square base plate to spread the load. The base plate has a shank in its centre to hold the tube
and is sometimes pinned to a sole board. Ledgers are horizontal tubes which connect between the
standards. Transoms rest upon the ledgers at right angles. Main transoms are placed next to the
standards, they hold the standards in place and provide support for boards; intermediate transoms are
those placed between the main transoms to provide extra support for boards. In Canada this style is
referred to as"English". "American" has the transoms attached to the standards and is used less but has
certain advantages in some situations. Since scaffolding is a physical structure, it is possible to go in and
come out of scaffolding.

As well as the tubes at right angles there are cross braces to increase rigidity, these are placed diagonally
from ledger to ledger, next to the standards to which they are fitted. If the braces are fitted to the
ledgers they are called ledger braces. To limit sway a facade brace is fitted to the face of the scaffold
every 30 metres or so at an angle of 35°-55° running right from the base to the top of the scaffold and
fixed at every level.
Of the couplers previously mentioned, right-angle couplers join ledgers or transoms to standards, putlog
or single couplers join board bearing transoms to ledgers - Non-board bearing transoms should be fixed
using a rightangle coupler. Swivel couplers are to connect tubes at any other angle. The actual joints are
staggered to avoid occurring at the same level in neighbouring standards.

The spacings of the basic elements in the scaffold are fairly standard. For a general purpose scaffold the
maximum bay length is 2.1 m, for heavier work the bay size is reduced to 2 or even 1.8 m while for
inspection a bay width of up to2.7 m is allowed.

The scaffolding width is determined by the width of the boards, the minimum width allowed is 600 mm
but a more typical four-board scaffold would be 870 mm wide from standard to standard. More heavy-
duty scaffolding can require 5, 6 or even up to 8 boards width. Often an inside board is added to reduce
the gap between the inner standard and the structure.

The lift height, the spacing between ledgers, is 2 m, although the base lift can be up to 2.7 m. The above
also shows a kicker lift, which is just 150 mm or so above the ground.

Transom spacing is determined by the thickness of the boards supported, 38 mm boards require a
transom spacing of no more than 1.2 m while a50 mm board can stand a transom spacing of 2.6 m and
63 mm boards can have a maximum span of 3.25 m. The minimum overhang for all boards is 50 mm and
the maximum overhang is no more than 4x the thickness of the board.


Good foundations are essential. Often scaffold frameworks will require more than simple base plates to
safely carry and spread the load. Scaffolding can be used without base plates on concrete or similar hard
surfaces, although base plates are always recommended. For surfaces like pavements or tarmac base
plates are necessary. For softer or more doubtful surfaces sole boards must be used, beneath a single
standard a sole board should be at least 1,000 square centimetres (160 in2) with no dimension less than
220 millimetres (8.7 in), the thickness must be at least 35 millimetres (1.4 in). For heavier duty scaffold
much more substantial baulks set in concrete can be required. On uneven ground steps must be cut for
the base plates, a minimum step size of around450 millimetres (18 in) is recommended. A working
platform requires certain other elements to be safe. They must be close-boarded, have double guard
rails and toe and stop boards. Safe and secure access must also be provided.


Scaffolds are only rarely independent structures. To provide stability for a scaffolding (at left) framework
ties are generally fixed to the adjacent building/fabric/steelwork. General practice is to attach a tie every
4m on alternate lifts (traditional scaffolding).

Prefabricated System scaffolds require structural connections at all frames - ie.2-3m centres (tie
patterns must be provided by the System manufacturer/supplier). The ties are coupled to the scaffold as
close to the junction of standard and ledger (node point) as possible. Due to recent regulation changes,
scaffolding ties must support+/- loads (tie/butt loads) and lateral (shear) loads. Due to the different
nature of structures there is a variety of different ties to take advantage of the opportunities. Through
ties are put through structure openings such as windows. A vertical inside tube crossing the opening is
attached to the scaffold by a transom and a crossing horizontal tube on the outside called a bridle tube.
The gaps between the tubes and the structure surfaces are packed or wedged with timber sections to
ensure a solid fit. Box ties are used to attach the scaffold to suitable pillars or comparable features. Two
additional transoms are put across from the lift on each side of the feature and are joined on both sides
with shorter tubes called tie tubes.

When a complete box tie is impossible a l-shaped lip tie can be used to hook the scaffold to the
structure, to limit inward movement an additional transom, a butt transom, is place hard against the
outside face of the structure. Sometimes it is possible to use anchor ties (also called bolt ties), these are
ties fitted into holes drilled in the structure. A common type is a ring bolt with an expanding wedge
which is then tied to a node point.

The least 'invasive' tie is a reveal tie. These use an opening in the structure but use a tube wedged
horizontally in the opening. The reveal tube is usually held in place by a reveal screw pin (an adjustable
threaded bar) and protective packing at either end. A transom tie tube links the reveal tube to the
scaffold. Reveal ties are not well regarded, they rely solely on friction and need regular checking so it is
not recommended that more than half of all ties be reveal ties. If it is not possible to use a safe number
of ties rakers can be used. These are single tubes attached to a ledger extending out from the scaffold at
an angle of less than 75° and securely founded. A transom at the base then completes a triangle back to
the base of the main scaffold.

Bamboo scaffolding

Bamboo scaffolding is a type of scaffolding made from bamboo and widely used in construction work for
centuries. Many famous landmarks, notably The Great Wall of China, were built using bamboo
scaffolding, but its use continues today in some parts of the world.


Bamboo Scaffolding was first introduced into the building industry in Hong Kong immediately after
colonization in the 1800s. It was widely used in the building of houses and multi-story buildings (up to
four stories high) prior to the development of metal scaffolding. It was also useful for short-term
construction projects, such as framework for temporary sheds for Cantonese Opera performances.
There are three types of scaffolding in Hong Kong:

1. Double-row scaffold;

2. Extended Bamboo scaffolding;

3. Shop signs of Bamboo Scaffolding.

Gradual decline
In 2013, there were 1,751 registered bamboo scaffolders and roughly 200 scaffolding companies in
Hong Kong. The use of bamboo scaffolding is diminishing due to shortages in labor and material. Despite
the lack of labor force and material, recently problem of safety has become another serious concern.

The labor shortage may be due to the reluctance of younger generations to become scaffolders. “They
even think that it’s a dirty and dangerous job. They are not going to do that kind of work,” said Yu Hang
Flord, who has been a scaffolder for 30 years and later became the director of Wui Fai Holdings, a
member of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Scaffolders General Merchants Association. “They refuse to
step in, although we give them high pay. They are scared of it. Young generations do not like jobs that
involve hard work.”

Another reason fewer people are becoming scaffolders is that new recruits need to undergo training
with the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council in order to acquire a license. Older scaffolders
generally learned in apprenticeships, and may have been able to gather more hands-on experience.

Material shortages are also a contributing factor to the decline. The bamboo scaffolding material was
imported from mainland China.

Bamboo—which matures after three years to the wide diameter and thick skin perfect for scaffolding—
came from the Shaoxing area in Guangdong. Over the past two decades, firms have had to look to
Guangxi instead. The industry's fear is that one day supplies will be blocked due to export embargoes
and environmental concerns. Attempts to import bamboo from Thailand, or switch to synthetic or
plastic bamboo, have so far proved unsuccessful. In many African countries, notably Nigeria, bamboo
scaffolding is still used for small scale construction urban areas. In rural areas, the in use of bamboo
scaffolding for construction is common. In fact, bamboo is an essential building and construction
commodity in Nigeria; the bamboo materials are transported on heavy trucks and trailers from rural
areas (especially the tropical rain forest) to cities and the northern part of Nigeria.

Some of the structures in relaxation and recreation centres, both in urban and rural areas of Nigeria, are
put in place using bamboo materials. This is not for reasons of poverty (especially in the cities) but to
add more aesthetics to these centres. Bamboo materials are still used in the construction of some bukas
(local restaurants) in rural areas.


Forms of bamboo scaffolding include:

Double-row Scaffold

Only double-row bamboo scaffold is allowed to be used for working at height.

Nylon Mesh

The perimeter of bamboo scaffold should be covered by nylon mesh against falling objects. The lapping
of nylon mesh should be at least100mm wide.
Access and Egress

Suitable means of access should be provided from the building or ground level to the scaffold such as
gangway, stairs and ladder etc.

Catch Fan

Sloping catch fans shall be erected at a level close to the first floor and at no more than15 metres,
vertical intervals should give a minimum horizontal protection coverage of 1500mm. Large catch fans
should be erected at specific locations to protect the public and/or workers underneath.

Platform of Catch Fan or Receptacle

A suitable receptacle, covered with galvanized zinc sheet, should be provided within each catch-fan to
trap falling objects.

Steel Bracket

Steel brackets shall be provided for supporting the standard of scaffold at about six floor intervals. The
horizontal distance between steel brackets is about 3 metres.


Mild steel bars or similar materials are required to tie any structure to maintain the bamboo scaffold in
its position on every floor. The distance of adjacent putlogs is about 3 to4 metres.

Working Platform

Every working platform must be at least 400mm wide and closely boarded by planks. The edges of
working platforms should be protected by no less than 2 horizontal bamboo members of the scaffold, at
intervals between 750mm to 900mm and suitable toeboards no less than 200mm high.

Special Scaffold

All scaffolds with a height excess of 15 metres shall be designed by an Engineer.

Competent Examiner

They should complete a formal training in bamboo scaffolding work or hold a trade test certificate on
bamboo scaffolding and have at least10 years of relevant experience.

Trained Worker

They should complete formal training in bamboo scaffolding work or hold a trade test certificate on
bamboo scaffolding and have at least 3 years of relevant experience.

Uses in construction
Bamboo scaffolding is a temporary structure to support people and materials when constructing or
repairing building exteriors and interiors. In bamboo scaffolding, plastic fibre straps and bamboo shoots
are bound together to form a solid and secure scaffold structure without screws. Bamboo scaffolding
does not need to have a foundation on the ground, as long as the scaffolding has a fulcrum for structural
support. Bamboo scaffolding is mostly seen in developing Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka, and Indonesia.

Types of scaffolding covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the United States
include the Specialty scaffolding following categories: Pole; tube and coupler; fabricated frame (tubular
welded frame scaffolds); plasterers’, decorators’, and large area scaffolds; bricklayers' (pipe); horse;
form scaffolds and carpenters’ bracket scaffolds; roof brackets; outrigger; pump jacks; ladder jacks;
window jacks; crawling boards (chicken ladders); step, platform, and trestle ladder scaffolds; single point
adjustable suspension; two-point adjustable suspension (swing stages); multipoint adjustable
suspension; stone setters’ multipoint adjustable suspension scaffolds, and masons’ multipoint
adjustable suspension scaffolds; catenary; float (ship); interior hung; needle beam; multilevel
suspended; mobile; repair bracket scaffolds; and stilts.

Gallery of scaffold types

. Wooden pole scaffold.

Pipe staging is very common in the U.S. Welded sections stack on top of each other and braced with
cross braces, workers stand on planks or aluminum platforms.

Bamboo scaffold with nylon knots.

The putlog is the horizontal piece on which the platform rests, the upright pole is called a standard. In
some masonry buildings the holes into which the putlogs are inserted remain unfilled and are called
putlog holes. A type of putlog scaffold where the putlogs go through the wall and are relatively balanced
on each side. Carpenters' bracket scaffolding or wall brackets bolt through, and hang from, a wall.

Putlog scaffold

In addition to the putlog couplers (discussed above), there are also putlog tubes. These have a flattened
end or have been fitted with a blade. This feature allows the end of the tube to be inserted into or rest
upon the brickwork of the structure.

A putlog scaffold may also be called a bricklayer's scaffold. As such, the scaffold consists only of a single
row of standards with a single ledger.The putlogs are transoms attached to the ledger at one end but
integrated into the bricks at the other. Spacing is the same on a putlog scaffold as on a general purpose
scaffold, and ties are still required. In recent years a number of new innovations have meant an
increased scope of use for scaffolding, such as ladder beams for spanning spaces that cannot
accommodate standards and the increased use of sheeting and structure to create temporary roofs.


A pump-jack is a type of portable scaffolding system. The scaffold rests on supports attached to two or
more vertical posts. The user raises the scaffolding by pumping the foot pedals on the supports, like an
automobile jack.

Baker staging

Baker staging is a metal scaffold which is easy to assemble. Rolling platforms typically 740 millimetres
(29 in) wide by 1.8 metres (6 ft) long and 1.8 metres (6 ft) tall sections which can be stacked up to three
high with the use of added outriggers. The work platform height is adjustable.

X-Deck ladder scaffolding

Low level scaffolding that is height adjustable. It is a hybrid ladder scaffold work platform. The
widespread use of scaffolding systems, along with Standards the profound importance that they earned
in modern applications such as civil engineering projects and temporary structures, led to the definition
of a series of standards covering a vast number of specific issues involving scaffolding. Among the
standards there are: DIN 4420, a DIN standard divided in 5 parts which covers the design and detail of
scaffolds, ladder scaffolds, safety requirements and standard types, materials, components, dimensions
and load bearing capacity. DIN 4421, a DIN standard which covers the analysis, design and construction
of false work29 CFR Part 1926: Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry from the
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with an accompanying “construction

National Access and

Scaffolding Confederation

(UK trade association)

Willow Island disaster