Scaffolding or mobile towers often get confused and are sometimes thought to be the same thing; however they are not. Essentially, they offer a very similar purpose which is to provide a safe elevated platform in which users can work for longer periods of time. One of the benefits of scaffolding is that it can be much more accommodating than a mobile tower as with scaffolding you can build around obstructions, however it can be much more labour intensive, and safety can be compromised if not built with much more training and attention.
If you have a project in mind that is going to take longer than 30 minutes, scaffolding or towers are recommended. Although different, safety tips are very similar.
If you are using a scaffolding or a mobile tower, training is essential. Scaffolding requires much more training than a mobile tower, as there are so many elements that you will need to learn about. Scaffolding courses can take years to master however the training body for mobile towers PASMA, offer a mobile tower training session that can be completed in one day. If you are looking for a piece of equipment to use for DIY and longer length tasks a mobile tower is perfect, if you are looking for a career scaffolding is the way to go.
Regular Maintenance & Inspection
Again, regardless of if you are using scaffolding or mobile towers your equipment must be maintained and inspected on a regular basis. It is recommended that a scaffold is checked at least once a week, after adverse weather conditions and prior to being used, this should be done by a CISRS scaffolder. A mobile tower is also advised to be checked regularly too by a competent person, ideally someone who has been trained. Ensure to check all locking mechanisms and general wear and tear before using the equipment.
Guardrails & Toeboards
Guardrails and toeboards are another element of safety when working with mobile towers or scaffolding. Guardrails should be set around a platform which prevents the user from falling from the platform, it’s advised to include guardrails all the way around the platform including a top rail, a mid-rail and a bottom rail. Guardrails also offer the same protection on mobile scaffolding however these are usually easier to put together safely, due to the colour coded erection system. Also, as a mobile tower is a set size it makes it much easier to know where the guardrails and toeboards should be.
Toeboards should also be fitted to platforms as it minimizes the risk of objects or tools falling from the platform onto people below the tower or scaffold. Due to the risk identified with falling tools it is also recommended to close off the area underneath the scaffold or mobile tower.
Each user should also wear personal protective equipment such as boots and a hard hat, collective protection should also be considered.
As we’ve already discussed, scaffolding should always be inspected by a professional before being used, when purchasing a mobile tower, you should take note of the classification of it. There are many sub-standard mobile towers on the market which are potentially unsafe as they haven’t been built to standard and the correct specifications. If you are buying a mobile tower, ensure it is EN1004.
- Scaffolding is much better for customisable jobs and getting over obstacles.
- Mobile towers are an ideal alternative should you need to carry out long duration tasks but are not a qualified scaffolder.
- Training is required for both mobile towers and scaffolding however scaffolding courses can take years due to the complexity of staying safe.
- Always maintain and inspect your equipment weekly and before every use
- Make sure guardrails and toeboards are in place to protect users and passers-by.
- If buying a mobile tower, ensure it is EN1004.