Unless you’re in the construction scaffolding business, you may be unaware of the variety of scaffolding types. While all scaffolding styles have the same purpose—to allow workers to access multiple levels of a construction site—the types of scaffolding materials and designs can vary drastically.

What is Scaffolding?

If you’re researching “what is scaffolding” and “types of scaffolding,” we’ve got answers.

Scaffolding is a platform that allows workers (and their materials) to move around a construction site at elevated heights. The different types of scaffolding are temporary tools: they can be quickly erected and deconstructed for the demands of the job.

Depending on the job site’s location, the scaffolding can be made from various materials, from bamboo shoots and twine to complex interlocking steel rods. Regardless of the scaffolding types used worldwide, they all provide access to difficult to reach areas, allowing workers to create new buildings and renovate old ones.

What are the Major Types of Scaffolding in Construction?

One of the most common questions is, “what are the three types of scaffolds?” Most people will probably be familiar with the main 3 types of scaffolds. However, you can also find additional options that may fit specific jobs better. Below, we’ve broken down the three main types, as well as some alternative scaffolding:

Supported Scaffolding

The most common type of scaffolding is supported scaffolding. You can see this quintessential scaffold around works sites globally. You might see these scaffolding types constructed from wooden beams, bamboo, or, most commonly, steel tubing.

A ground-level base unit provides the structure with a supported scaffold, while the building gives horizontal support. This type offers the fastest and usually safest method to access a work site’s higher levels. Supported scaffolding uses a modular design: workers can easily construct it and add additional levels as the job dictates.

Additionally, worksites integrate supported scaffolding for building deconstruction. As workers break down each floor, they can adjust the scaffolding to the appropriate level.

Mobile Scaffolding

Of the different types of scaffolding, a mobile scaffold is the quickest to set up and easiest to move. It is best suited for large worksites that require workers to move quickly and efficiently. As construction crews are often on tight schedules, they can find it impractical to assemble and dismantle supported scaffolds continuously. So, mobile scaffold comes into play. Similar in structure to a supported scaffold, a mobile scaffold is set atop castors to allow workers mobility across the worksite.

A mobile scaffold is inherently not as stable as support scaffolding, so you should always lock it in place to mitigate hazards.

Suspended Scaffolding

If you’ve ever seen a window-cleaner outside of a skyscraper, you’ve witnessed suspended scaffolding. A suspended scaffold offers the best accessibility to buildings with several stories out of the three types of scaffolding. However, it also poses the most significant fall hazard.

A suspended scaffold is hung from a structure’s roof, where workers can raise or lower it to the necessary level.  These structures are beneficial for creating access points for hard-to-reach repairs or for transporting equipment between various stories.

Other Types of Scaffolding

Cantilever Scaffolding

A cantilever scaffold is generally constructed in conjunction with different types of steel scaffolding. It acts as a separate scaffold, creating a balcony-styled platform without direct support beneath it. 

While it is still capable of supporting a crew and equipment, the cantilever scaffold allows an elevated platform that doesn’t impede foot traffic below. Workers use cantilever scaffolding types when it’s improbable to enclose an area, such as a populated city block, or if the ground doesn’t provide substantial support to erect a supported scaffold.

Trestle Scaffolding

Trestle scaffolding is commonly used for jobs, such as painting, that don’t require access higher than 10 feet above the ground. These elevated platforms consist of a large wood or metal plank propped up by a sturdy trestle. A trestle is an “A” framed tripod on which the horizontal plank rests. If you use trestle scaffolding, you should use them with a falling safety system—either additional railing, nets, or harnesses.

Chicken Ladders

Think of a ramp leading to a chicken coop, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of a chicken ladder. Primarily used in roofing renovation and remodeling, these ladders attach to the peak of a roof to provide a stable and level working surface.

Does OSHA Require a Certain Type of Scaffolding?

While OSHA doesn’t require specific scaffolding for job types, it does have requirements that must be met to avoid fines and penalties. In order to remain compliant with the regulations, you must follow the systems that require guardrail heights, mid-rail heights, fall protection, cross bracers, and a competing person overseeing the worksite. These requirements differ depending on the work conditions, so be sure to check before you start a job.

Pro-Tect Plastic is Here to Help

The various scaffolding types each have a purpose and should be used in specific worksites to maximize efficiency and safety. To learn more about scaffolding safety, contact Pro-Tect Plastics.

In addition to helping you better understand the various types of scaffolding, we are your heat shrink plastics experts. From shrinkwrap guns to heat shrink tape, we have the supplies you need.