Independent Scaffolding

What is independent scaffolding used for, and how is it different from similar types?

While the basic principles behind scaffolding systems are relatively simple, there are many subtle variations to the design and erection of scaffolds which can prove confusing for the uninitiated.  When you engage a scaffolding company for your project, it’s important to use someone who is fully up-to-date with current standards and techniques, and knows which scaffolding methods should be applied in various circumstances.

When you mention scaffolding to a member of the public, or even to many within the construction industry, the image which pops into their head is a large building with several levels of platforms standing close against the exterior wall.  Certainly, an all-access scaffold which covers the face of a building is one of the most visible and functional types of erection, but even within this description, there are distinct types.

Most likely, the picture in your head is one of an independent tied scaffold.  Independent access scaffolding is a technique used to allow workers of any trade or specialization to reach any part of a wall or building easily to do their work.  It also allows for heavy tools or materials to be brought in and used at any level, without making compromises in terms of safety.

Such an erection is ‘independent’ in that it stands on the ground, and bears its own weight – it is not supported by the building it is erected against, or any other exterior structure.  The word ‘tied’ in the description refers to the fact that the scaffold is tethered to the wall for stability, but not for support.  The wall can help to prevent the scaffold from deforming, but does not bear the weight of the scaffold, or any weight which is placed upon the scaffold.

This makes an independent tied scaffold different to a free-standing scaffold, which has no physical contact with the structure it is used on.  Free-standing arrangements are often used for structures which are not a convenient shape for the scaffold to be tied to, for example, when working on the face of a cantilever roof.  They can also be used when the side of the building may be too weak or delicate to support ties, eg. In the case of historic buildings.  Internally, free-standing may be the best option for decorating scaffolding as it will leave no marks on the walls.  On the other extreme, independent scaffolding is also different from putlog scaffolds, which use the building wall directly for support.

Independent erections are a great type of scaffolding for window replacement, exterior decorating, brickwork repairs, and other similar tasks.  They can also be used for roof work, and temporary roof scaffolding can be mounted on top when necessary.  That’s why we say that when you imagine scaffolding on the side of a building, you’re most likely thinking of the independent type.

Of course, the key to professionalism in the scaffolding trade is being able to know exactly what type of solution is required in any given situation, and how to achieve it.  For more information on independent scaffolding services, contact us.