What Is a Scaffolding Tower?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Man with a drill
Man with a drill

A scaffolding tower is a temporary structure put in place at construction sites to allow workers to access higher points on that structure. The tower itself is usually movable or modular to make construction and breakdown of the structure much easier, and the dimensions of the scaffolding tower can vary depending on the job being completed. In most cases, the unit is made from high-grade metals such as steel to ensure stability and strength, though other materials can be used to make such a structure.

The most common design of a scaffolding tower includes four vertical support beams, to which horizontal cross braces can be welded. A platform is secured to the top of the structure, and railings are welded around the platform for added safety. A ladder system is also commonly included in the scaffolding tower structure to allow users to climb up to the platform. It is not uncommon to find a scaffolding tower with included wheels or casters; these wheels will lock when the structure is in place, and unlock when it becomes necessary to move the structure. Moving the unit can be slightly difficult, however, and for safety reasons, it is usually recommended that more than one person move the tower.

Larger scaffolding structures can be quite elaborate. While a scaffolding tower is usually designed only for use on single level or slightly larger buildings, full scaffolding structures can be built to cover a much larger building or structure. The vertical uprights, known as standards, can be interlocked to create a very tall tower; horizontal tubes called ledgers can make the structure exceptionally wide, even covering the entire width of a building or structure. Transoms are secured to the ledgers at right angles to create stability, and platforms can be secured on top of the transoms to allow a worker to walk or stand.

When a worker is operating on a scaffolding tower, he or she will usually use some sort of security system that includes a harness and a hook or carabiner. This ensures the worker will not fall too far off the tower at any point. Other security features are usually in place; toe boards run the length of any platforms installed on the tower to prevent a worker from unknowingly walking too far forward off the platform, for example. Guard rails often run throughout the structure to prevent falls as well.

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