What Are the Different Types of Scaffolding?

Scaffolding platforms help all kinds of workers reach places difficult to reach even on ladders.

Self Supporting

Suspension scaffolding on a highrise buildingSuspension scaffolding on a highrise building
Carpenters and construction workers, painters, maintenance workers and electricians all use scaffolding. There are many different types of scaffold platforms with different support systems to accommodate the various job requirements.

Self supporting scaffolding has supports from the ground with poles or frames. Workers stand on a platform securely supported below them. Examples of self supporting scaffolding include: mobile scaffolding with wheels, bricklayer's squares, fabricated frames, and tube and coupler scaffolds, says the North Carolina Department of Labor.

Suspension

Suspension scaffolding platforms look similar to self supporting scaffolds because they consist of a platform with supports. Suspension scaffolds, however have supports from an overhead structure and suspend in the air with ropes and sometimes pulleys. Examples of self supporting scaffolding include adjustable single and double point scaffolds, multiple point scaffolds, float scaffolds and catenary.

Speciality

Specialty scaffolding doesn't easily fit into any of the other two categories. Typically these platforms conform to specialty trades and look much different than any other scaffold. For example, carpenter form scaffolds have no below or above supports. They bracket right onto the building frame for support. Another example is a roof supported scaffold which has triangular shaped supports and fastens right to the roof.

Load Requirements

All three types of scaffolding must support, or have the ability to support four times their intended load plus their own weight, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor. Any guardrails need to withstand 100 pounds at the midrail and 200 or more pounds at the top rail. Suspension ropes on suspension scaffolding must successfully support six times the intended load.

Safety

Besides load requirements, scaffolding platforms and workers implement other safety features. All platforms must have guardrails with a top, mid, and bottom rail if they are ten feet or more above the ground, says the North Carolina Department of Labor. Also, all workers should wear hard hats to protect them from falling objects. To protect the public from falling objects, scaffolding often has mesh guards or panels below the platform. Workers on suspension scaffolding often wear fall arrest body harnesses to protect them from falling.