by Frederike Berg
How to dismantle a scaffold safely
Scaffolding usually gets a lot of attention when it is erected on famous buildings. This is what happened at London's Big Ben - officially known as Elizabeth Tower. For a whole 5 years, the 160-year-old London landmark disappeared behind scaffolding. Conservation work made it necessary. The whole thing caused such a stir that even the sauce manufacturer Heinz integrated the scaffolding into its famous Big Ben logo on all HP Sauce bottles. But that's over now and the scaffolding has to make way again for a clear view of what is probably the most famous clock tower in the world.
The dismantling of the scaffolding on Big Ben began at the end of 2021 and is scheduled to be fully completed in May 2022. After all, safely dismantling a scaffold is no less complex than erecting it. Even if you don't want to dismantle a scaffold at Big Ben, you should always have the individual steps for dismantling your scaffolding at hand. We have summarised them for you here.
What you have to do before the actual scaffold dismantling
As always in scaffolding and the construction industry, the no 1 rule is: saftey first! Because dismantling a scaffold is no less challenging than scaffold assembly. That's why you first need a strategy on how to dismantle your scaffold. You should always start by checking your scaffold thoroughly before you start dismantling it. You can proceed as follows:
- Step 1: Check the stability and statics of your scaffold. All scaffolding components of the scaffold should still be firmly connected to each other. If individual parts have been removed or severely damaged during the service life, you should replace them for safe scaffold dismantling.
- Step 2: Check if the scaffolding decks are still firmly in place.
- Step 3: Check the anchors and all fasteners on the scaffold for stability.
- Step 4: Check what kind of fall protection you need for the dismantling and install it. Read more about fall protection here.
- Step 5: Make sure that no building materials or tools are still lying loose on the scaffold. In the worst case, these could fall down during dismantling and injure people below.
All these steps are part of the basics of a good scaffold inspection. Read more about how these are done here.
Now you can start dismantling the scaffolding
When your scaffold has passed all safety checks, you can start dismantling it. Here, too, you should proceed systematically:
Step 1: Make room for the dismantled scaffolding parts
Clear a space nearby to store the dismantled scaffold parts. Individual scaffold parts should be removed from the scaffold immediately during dismantling and put aside for later inspection. There should also be an access road for the vehicle that will transport the scaffolding material off the site later.
Step 2: Put on safety gear
Wear the necessary safety clothing. This includes safety shoes, a helmet, gloves and other safety equipment required depending on the project, such as PPE.
Step 3: Remove scaffold components from top to bottom
Logical - dismantling is done in reverse order of assembly: from top to bottom. First remove the tubes and safety railings before dismantling the scaffold decks. Scaffold parts should not be stored on the scaffold itself during dismantling, but transported directly down to the ground. You can do this either by reaching down to your colleague below or by carefully lowering with a rope system, hoist or similar.
- Step 4: Remove scaffold anchors
Stability must also be guaranteed at all times when dismantling the scaffold. Therefore, only remove the anchors after you have dismantled the entire platform.
- Step 5: Check the scaffold parts
After you have dismantled all of the scaffolding components, check them thoroughly. Faulty scaffolding parts might cause injury, so any parts that can't be repaired should be placed aside for later disposal. All of the undamaged or reparable scaffolding parts should be properly stored for transport off site.
Do you have some tricks and tips on how to make the dismantling of your scaffolding as efficient as possible? We’re looking forward to them in the comments.
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