Erecting and Dismantling Birdcage Scaffolding

February 14, 2019

Just as a quick reminder, birdcage scaffolding is built as an equally sized frame. The structure is squarish and built to stand independently, away from the walls and support surfaces that normally steady a temporary scaffolding tower. Importantly, to stay stable, the scaffolding must be braced and tied in that rectangular outline, hence the birdcage label. To erect the scaffolding, the grid utilizes an equidistant transoms and ledgers layout.

Erection Practices: Birdcage Scaffolding

With the innermost row lined up so that it is parallel to a given surface, the transoms and ledgers are gathered. The ground layer is planned carefully, for there'll be no way to alter the tower's dimensions once the erection work is underway. The erection of a number of scaffolding standards doesn't incorporate any top level components, but the lower level plans are influenced by those dimensional constraints. For example, the minimum number of toe boards is set as the erection team decides how many personnel can work simultaneously on the top of the scaffolding.

Rule-Regulated Erection

A 2.5-metre maximum width is set between the standards. At every other cage box, diagonal braces must be fitted in two directions. Again, because this is an independent structure, a temporary scaffolding tower that doesn't receive support from a building wall, these spacings and diagonal reinforcements are of critical importance. They absolutely ensure structural integrity, top to bottom, side to side, and all the way around the bird cage. Finally, with the ceiling height having decided the optimum tower height, the gapless boards are framed with toe panels and handrails.

Dismantling Birdcage Towers

A cursory inspection checks the scaffolding for damage or missing components. A team of workers has been up there all week. They've been installing lighting, ceiling pipes and ductwork, plus a heavy air conditioner unit. No one knows what the week's work has done to the staging in that time. The inspector will soon spot any damage or loosened fasteners, though. Now, breaking down the tower from the top, the toe and hand guards are dismantled and lowered on a strong safety line. Meanwhile, the dismantling team anchor each other to a stable support. The platform perimeter safety barrier is gone, so a fall arrest system must be employed until the tower is properly dismantled.

Inherently stable, that desirable feature can become something of a risk factor during the erection/dismantling work. There are no external supports here, no stabilizing walls or surfaces, so a safe practices approach goes one lift height at a time. As the 2.5-metre spacing regulation and diagonal buttressing are installed, advance guard railing goes up next until the following platform is safely erected. Up top, the gapless boards and perimeter guardrails finalize the design, at least until it's time to dismantle the birdcage.

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