Scaffolders have a big role in the construction industry. In a nutshell, they are responsible for putting up and taking down the scaffolding that enables workers to safely reach the higher levels of buildings while construction, reconstruction and maintenance works are carried out.
For anyone who is interested in taking up a role as a scaffolder, here’s some information on what scaffolders do, the working environment, basic requirements, and potential career opportunities:
What do Scaffolders do?
Essentially, what scaffolders do is erect and dismantle safe working platforms that provide construction workers with quality access to higher levels on existing buildings and structures while maintenance or renovation work is being carried out. Scaffolders are also responsible for providing the same access to upper levels on new-build projects.
The tasks you work on in contract scaffolding can vary from putting up scaffold on a home for a reroofing project, applying structures for the construction of new commercial developments, and even restoration of historical monuments. It’s often overlooked, but scaffolders are also brought in to erect scaffolding for permanent or semi-permanent structures that are used as stages and spectator stands, for example.
A series of upright metal tubes - called standards - are joined with couplers to horizontal poles - called ledgers. At right angles to these are transoms, which are usually far shorter in length, and these are what the wooden working platforms - called battens- rest on. As a way of adding appropriate levels of strength to the scaffold, cross-braces are placed at diagonals and where possible, clamps are used to 'tie in' the scaffold to the building or structure. Next, guard rails and safety nets are put up to reduce any potential dangers workers are faced with while using it, as well as for people who are passing the scaffolding below.
Every scaffolder works in a team under stringent safety standards and will be required to use a host of hand tools and safety equipment. These include:
Understanding a Scaffolder’s Working Environment
Scaffolders generally work an average 40-hour week, although this can vary depending on each jobs’ deadline.
Scaffolders work on jobs that are indoors, outdoors, and at heights. The role of a scaffolder is a physically demanding one, and the job often requires scaffolders to work a range of conditions, as well as lots of carrying, climbing and lifting of the heavy equipment related to the job.
Additionally, scaffolders are required to wear safety harnesses, protective helmets and footwear at all times.
What is Needed to Be a Scaffolder?
If you want to become a scaffolder you must be able to undertake the following:
Follow instructions and plans accurately and carefully
Possess good hand-eye coordination
Be comfortable operating at heights
Be able to work in a team
Be physically fit and nimble for handling heavy equipment and climbing
Like working outdoors
Follow health and safety issues at all times
What are the Career Opportunities for Scaffolders?
Scaffolders work for specialist scaffolding firms, and building contractors, for example. There are many opportunities available once you have qualified to become a scaffolder and hold the certificates required. Progression can be an option, depending on the firm, with supervisory, estimating or construction management roles on offer for successful team members. With appropriate computer-aided design (CAD) skills, a scaffolder could move into project design and planning. Also, there are opportunities to become self-employed, like D & C Roofing’s Chris has successfully achieved!
If you think scaffolding is a job you’d like to do, why not tell us why on our social media channels?
Image: Eric Jones under Creative Commons.