These ev­ery­day struc­tures are vi­tal in the field of con­struc­tion

How It Works - - CONTENTS -

You might no­tice them be­ing built around an old build­ing on your street al­most overnight, but scaf­fold­ing can also used to sup­port struc­tures such as half-pipes, ski ramps and con­cert stages. Scaf­fold­ing is even used to main­tain large boats and iconic land­marks such as Lon­don’s El­iz­a­beth Tower.

The teams of scaf­fold­ers need a strong head for heights and im­pec­ca­ble bal­ance. It’s no easy task to lift, move and place thou­sands of steel tubes, weigh­ing ap­prox­i­mately 4.5 kilo­grams per me­tre, and there is a lot at stake if things go wrong. Though it can look a lit­tle precarious to see con­struc­tion work­ers on top of dizzy­ingly tall sky­scrapers, feel as­sured that scaf­fold­ing is as­sem­bled to a very high stan­dard and is reg­u­lated by author­i­ties.

How­ever, this isn’t a new tech­nol­ogy we’ve de­vel­oped in re­cent years.

The pa­le­olithic cave paint­ings at Las­caux in south­west France are ac­com­pa­nied with mark­ings that sug­gest a scaf­fold sys­tem was built to paint the ceil­ing around 17,000 years ago.

To­day, a scaf­fold­ing struc­ture pri­mar­ily con­sists of tubes, cou­plers and boards. Tubes are gen­er­ally made from steel or alu­minium, with a stan­dard­ised di­am­e­ter of 48.3 mil­lime­tres and are avail­able in dif­fer­ent lengths. The cou­plers are used to hold the tubes to­gether in their fa­mil­iar grid pat­tern, of which there are three ba­sic va­ri­eties. Fi­nally, the boards al­low con­struc­tion work­ers to move around on the scaf­fold­ing and tend to be made from sea­soned wood.

The av­er­age heav­i­est com­po­nent used in scaf­fold­ing weighs 20kg The El­iz­a­beth Tower is cur­rently cov­ered by scaf­fold­ing while ren­o­va­tions take place

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