Scaffolding stairs are structures used to allow a person to get to a higher platform on a scaffold structure. Scaffolding is a temporary work structure mounted to the outside of a building or freestanding just outside of the building or structure, on which workers can stand or walk to complete work. Some types of scaffolds require the worker to climb a ladder either on the outside of the structure or in the middle of it, which can be dangerous and strenuous; scaffolding stairs are safer and easier to use, though they will take up more space.
Scaffold structures are made of metal pipes with wooden platforms built into them; to reach these platforms, a worker often has to climb the scaffolding, either on a ladder or on the structure itself. This can be a dangerous endeavor, so scaffolding stairs have become increasingly common to improve safety, efficiency, and speed. These stairways are built into the structure, usually on the inside, and they tend to be modular so they can be moved into various positions to fit the overall design of a particular scaffold structure. The scaffolding stairs are usually made from a durable metal such as steel, though lighter weight aluminum is also commonly used.
Scaffolding stairs are used in lieu of ladders that are mounted in the center of the structure. The ladder will require the worker to climb vertically to reach a platform, and once he or she reaches that platform, the worker will need to climb through a hole in the platform. This exposed hole can pose an extreme danger for workers who may fall into it unexpectedly. The scaffolding stairs eliminate this possibility by allowing access to the platform at either end, rather than in the center. No exposed holes will exist either, and a railing can be mounted where the stairs come up onto the platform to prevent falls or other accidents.
The use of scaffolding stairs instead of ladders is also advantageous because the stairs will allow a worker to carry materials from one level to another safely and easily. Climbing a ladder often prevents a worker from carrying materials safely, so using stairs can actually improve workflow and efficiency. For larger loads, however, a scaffold lift will be used instead; this mechanical device prevents the worker from having to lift heavy objects up the narrow stairs or up the vertical ladders.