Safe Practices in Scaffold Dismantling: What are They?

April 2, 2019

Just for a moment, as a temporary scaffolding tower begins its dismantling phase, parts of that structure become part of the fall hazard problem. The fasteners loosen, struts and frame sections come apart up top, on an elevated platform; and they become a danger to those who are working near the staging. And that's only a single example of the numerous hazards that grow as the tower is broken down.

Weighing The Importance Of This Process

The work is done, a building site is closing down and the tower is being prepped to come down. Just like the meticulously managed erection phase, this work is addressed with a heightened level of care and attention. Only an unschooled, unqualified observer would believe otherwise. That spectator might guess the work is done after the scaffolding is abandoned, so the dismantling can be performed in any old manner, with parts dropping to the ground, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

A Safe Practices Dismantling Procedure

In reality, codes of safe practice are conscientiously applied as each scaffolding element detaches. That fictitious observer got one thing right, the tower has been cleared of workers. The platforms are empty. Not a single person or tool or piece of building material is left up there. Next, a safety sign is posted somewhere where every site worker can see it. It warns of fall hazards and dismantling dangers. A competent person is on hand again. That individual has checked the weather, for the work can't be done in high wind conditions or when slip-inducing rain is falling.

A Structurally Stable Ending

Just like when the staging was in use, it needs to be firm and safely anchored as it's broken down. That might seem like a counterintuitive requirement, especially when all of those structural elements are about to be dismantled, but a safely disassembled scaffolding tower remains stable until its last few parts are broken down. That's a key condition here, one that a qualified scaffolding crew applies with relentless professionalism. Indeed, there's a carefully followed sequence of actions that are always followed as the staging comes safely apart.

In that sequence, the scaffolding is cleaned of tools and materials, then checks are made to make sure it's cleared of work personnel. Elements start to come apart after a competent person gives the operation the go-ahead. Upper frame sections come down and are deftly lowered on ropes and cable lines. Meanwhile, that lower level is kept rigid and work-safe. Ties are tightened on those levels so that the dismantling team retain their stable work area. Level by level, that sequence is diligently safeguarded, even when the crew are back on the ground, working on the last few fastened sections.

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