The Importance of Ground Stability in Scaffolding Erection

January 15, 2018

It's not hard to erect a well-balanced scaffolding frame when the ground is stable. The unyielding surface is rock solid, so the staging holds firm. No matter how the structure is tested, this fixed base guarantees a safe and reliable work experience. Steadfast as this structural relationship is, it can be compromised by ground stability issues. Watch as the weakened ground undermines a flawlessly erected scaffolding tower.

Dealing with Accumulated Element Elasticity

A reinforced backbone supports a permanent structure, at least it does until the foundations crack. The damage weakens the building, and an expensive repair project seems unavoidable. It's different with scaffolding erection. The couplings and fasteners aren't made of concrete. Instead of permanent walls, it's a series of metal elements that stabilize this structure. In engineering terms, the metal parts are braced against each other, but that fortified framework contains a finite quantity of elasticity. Bar to bar, frame piece to frame piece, this 'springiness' factor accumulates. Ground stability is important on this occasion because shaky foundations magnify this elasticity issue.

Temporary Structure Tipping Points

Again, if the base level disintegrates, permanent walls crack. Scaffold erection techniques don't come with this stress relieving property. No, if the ground does become unstable, the formerly anchored staging tilts. No cracks fracture as a stress relieving mechanism here. No, the fasteners are wrenched, loosened and torn free. Meanwhile, the temporary structural elements twist and break away from the frame. A tipping point is reached. If we're lucky, the scaffolding tilts back. In all likelihood, however, the entire structure reaches that tipping point, tilts to one side, and comes crashing down.

Avoiding Ground Instability Issues

Remember the staging has been perfectly erected. Not a single weak point existed on this hypothetical frame, yet it came falling down like a badly arranged house of cards. No matter how well the erection team worked, how superior the scaffolding system was, it just couldn't stand when its foundations were weakened. Don't build this critically important work frame close to a trench, for that open dirt channel could shift, even when the temporary staging is established over a metre away from the trench. Don't erect the tower on shifting sand or mud. Instead, use packed and levelled ground.

Ground stability checks are like a science-based predictive study. Soil subsidence is included as an important part of this inspection discipline. Out here, seasoned eyes spot recently backfilled trenches. The hazard is identified and addressed. Likewise, all other ground stability issues are determined, the erection team is informed of the hazard, and the scaffolding project is put on pause until a reliable erection site is established.

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