Scaffolding is a common sight on buildings across the UK, and often the go-to choice when ladders or work platforms are unsuitable.
However, in some situations, a full scaffolding solution may not be cost or time effective, which is where scaffold towers come in. Scaffolding towers allow more than one person to carry out work at a time, making them superior to ladders, and are relatively quick to erect when compared with full scaffold systems.
You will often find scaffold towers being used for tasks such as rendering, bricklaying and roofing, and scaffold towers are a favourite of many tradesmen and professionals.
However, as with their larger cousins, tower scaffolds come with some drawbacks.
Like full scaffolding, towers can take a while to erect, especially when working in a small team or alone, which makes them a far greater time investment. The numerous parts mean they can still be a complicated undertaking.
One of the main negatives of tower scaffolding stems from one of its selling points: the wheels and casters. Though they allow the tower to be moved, they can become a serious hazard in and of themselves if they are not properly kept. Despite being designed to lock into place, they can malfunction as a result of poor care and become unstable, possibly causing injury or worse.
As well as this, the general modular nature and adjustability of towers means they are also more prone to failure. Screws and bolts which hold vital elements together experience regular wear and tear, and can fail in extreme circumstances. This means that extra care must be taken to ensure the tower is structurally sound.
There is also the issue of cost. As with fixed scaffolding, hiring is a popular way to use tower scaffolds, but these costs can quickly rack up with regular jobs.
The worst case scenario
The drawbacks of tower scaffolding can be a nuisance, but at worst, they can even put people in danger.
In 2016, a construction worker fell from a tower scaffold whilst refurbishing an old pub in Southampton, due to what an investigation called ‘unsafe working practices’ and ‘poor planning’.
The employee suffered a serious head injury leading to long term brain and memory problems, including seizures which means he is now unable to care for himself.
After a HSE investigation the principal contractor, Turnkey Contractors, was fined £40,000, and its director received 100 hours of community service. The subcontractor, Cedar Ridge Construction, was also fined £40,000.
HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: “this case highlights the importance of following industry guidance and in order to design and erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not raise risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold.”
Tower scaffold may seem like a good alternative to full size scaffolding, but these negatives can be a deal breaker. Instead, you might consider a rapid access platform, such as the Easi-Dec system, which can provide a safe and efficient work platform without the drawbacks of towers.
Easi-Dec allows access to the roof level for work such as window repair and maintenance, fascia and soffit work and even gutter cleaning, and can span obstructions such as porches and bay windows, unlike towers. The platform can even be used on uneven ground thanks to its independently adjustable legs.
The system is easy to move around the site once built, but unlike tower scaffolds, it features no wheels and fewer parts, drastically lowering the risk of failure and injury. To negate the need for multiple scaffold towers, or even a full scaffold system, several Easi-Decs can be linked together via a catwalk to form a full Roofline system, allowing for more extensive work.
Unlike scaffold towers, the Easi-Dec system does not require a PASMA tag or training. We provide free, system-specific training either at our training centre or your business, and offer a yearly platform audit service.
The greatest benefit of the Easi-Dec, however, is the money saved on scaffold hire costs. If you carry out regular work which would usually require scaffolding, an investment in an Easi-Dec system could save you a lot of money in the long run, as well as time.
If it sounds like an Easi-Dec might be a better solution to your needs, or if you require more information, call our product experts 01767 691812, or use our online contact form.