Scaffold towers, how to choose?

Scaffold towers, how to choose?    

There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing your access equipment. When purchasing a scaffold tower, your main priorities will be the equipment’s suitability to the project as well as the longevity of the apparatus. In this article we’re taking a closer look at how to choose the right scaffolding equipment to suit your needs. 

What is the best material?    

Aluminium    

When it comes to access equipment, aluminium is the most widely used material in the trades industry. Aluminium scaffold towers are treated to resist rust and corrosion, this improves the durability of the equipment, the safety of the scaffold tower and has the added benefit of the equipment being virtually maintenance free. Aluminium scaffold towers are versatile and durable, and their resistance to varying weather conditions make it an ideal product for outdoor use. 

Due to its lightweight properties, aluminium access equipment is easier to set up, take down and transport compared to similar fibreglass or steel designs.    

BENEFITS OF ALUMINIUM SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   
  • Affordable   
  • Lightweight but strong   
  • Versatile    
NEGATIVES OF ALUMINIUM SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   
  • Extended build time   
  • Electrically conductive   
  • Susceptible to damage   

Aluminium towers are lightweight yet strong, they can easily be transported and set up by one person. Although there may be a longer build time for some designs this is due to the additional safety measures available such as support braces and platforms which make the tower even more secure.    

Aluminium is a highly conductive material so if you are working near power sources or with electricity this equipment choice would not be suitable for safety reasons. Although aluminium scaffold towers may be more expensive than other options, their lightweight properties, ease of use and versatility often outweigh the cost.   

Fibreglass

The main appeal of fibreglass is its non-conductive properties. Fibreglass is made up of glass reinforced plastic. With fibreglass scaffold towers, electrical safety is ensured, so it really is the only product to consider in these circumstances.    

Easy to clean, fibreglass is a better choice of material if you are working in an area where hygiene is important and unlike steel or aluminium scaffolding towers and ladders, fibreglass equipment is non-conductive to heat or cold so will not be affected by temperature this can make it more comfortable to erect and dismantle.   

BENEFITS OF FIBREGLASS SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   
  • Electrically safe   
  • High visibility for onsite use.    
  • Non-conductive to heat or cold    
NEGATIVES OF FIBREGLASS SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   
  • Heavy   
  • Expensive   
  • Susceptible to damage   

The main drawback of fibreglass is its weight, compared to aluminium and even steel, fibreglass is a heavier, denser material. makes manual handling and transportation more difficult.    

Fibreglass is a more expensive option for scaffold towers but that shouldn’t even be a consideration when it comes to safety. Fibreglass is non-conductive, non-corrosive and spark resistant so would be ideal if your business deals with electrical projects. The popularity of fibreglass access equipment is growing due to its unique insulated qualities.   

Steel   

Steel scaffold towers are very robust they can be more durable for more demanding environments such as heavy rain and intense wind. The pre-galvanised finish is weather resistant and offers long-lasting corrosion resistance which is essential for those professionals who spend a good deal of time working outside, however they are susceptible to rust which can affect the longevity of the tower and cause safety issues.    

There is a wide range of structures, platform heights and platform sizes available, the variety of features on offer provide a safe and secure solution which is adaptable to a variety of projects. Steel scaffold towers and ladders can bear heavy loads and when compared to other materials have a longer durability.   

BENEFITS OF STEEL SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   

  • Strong   
  • Adaptable   
  • Cheapest option   

NEGATIVES OF STEEL SCAFFOLD TOWERS:   

  • Highly conductive   
  • Heavy and difficult to manage    
  • Susceptible to rust   

Because of the weight of the components that make up a steel scaffold tower, they can be difficult to store and transport and often need two or more people to set up. The strength and stability of a tower is affected by the thickness of the tubes which make up the tower. The greater the diameter of tube in the verticals, the more stable the tower.   

It is vital to source a steel scaffold tower from a reputable supplier and ensure that the equipment meets safety standards. You will need to ensure you have all the key components needed for the job at hand otherwise the tower will be non-compliant for use in the work place.   

Why is scaffold tower safety so important?   

Working at height does pose some risks. Inappropriate erection and misuse of scaffold towers are the cause of avoidable accidents in the work place. If a scaffold tower isn’t properly assembled, the chances of accidents occurring are increased. Risks from work at height need to be assessed and the appropriate equipment should be selected. An in-depth risk assessment for use of a scaffold tower in your work environment must be carried out before assembling and using the equipment.   

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH WORKING AT HEIGHT INCLUDE:   

  • Falling from a height   
  • Injury during assembling or disassembly     
  • Injury from falling objects    
  • Manual handling injury when carrying or lifting heavy objects   

PLANNING YOUR WORK AT HEIGHT:

  • Working at height tasks should be properly planned and organised   
  • Ensure those involved are competent    
  • If using outdoors check the strength and firmness of the ground    
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions   

Once a comprehensive risk assessment has been completed the tower can be assembled by a competent individual, this should be followed up with a pre-use inspection. Those using the scaffold tower should be trained in the possible dangers and precautions to take during use. There are many organisations that provide training for the safe erection and use of scaffold towers. Appropriate training reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries to those using the scaffold tower, as well as those, including the general public, in its close vicinity. Ensure you adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines including the safe working load which should be uniformly distributed.   

What types are there?   

The size of your scaffold tower depends on the job at hand. For plastering projects for example, a single-story tower would be appropriate. If you are working on a guttering or roofing projects, you may need a 2 or 3 story-tower depending on the height of the building. Be aware of the difference between tower height and working height to ensure you don’t order a scaffold tower that is too tall for your needs.   

What sizes are there?   

Tower scaffolds come in many different shapes and sizes. Having a clear idea why you need scaffolding and what you need it for will help you to find the right type of scaffold for your requirements.    

The usual width of a single scaffold tower is 1.8m wide with heights generally ranging from 2.2m -11.7m. If you need a larger working area, double width platforms are available and bespoke options are available from many reputable companies.    

At BPS Access Solutions, our work at height experts will work closely with you to match your requirements with one of our quality scaffold towers. Our towers come with everything needed — no expensive extras or accessories to buy. We offer free delivery along with a free lifetime guarantee.   

For the best solutions for working at height, why not contact us today on 01959 576 568 or send an email to sales@bpsaccesssolutions.co.uk?

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