Scaffolding is a temporary frame used to support people and material in the construction or building and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pieced although it can be made out of other materials. The purpose of a working scaffold is to provide a safe place of work with safe access suitable for the work being done. This document sets out performance requirements for working scaffolds. These are substantially independent of the materials of which the scaffold is made. The standard is intended to be used as the basis for enquiry and design.The basic materials are tubes, couplers and boards.
The key elements of a scaffold are standards, ledgers and transoms. The standards, also called uprights, are the vertical tubes that transfer the entire mass of the structure to the ground where they rest on a square base plate to spread the load. The base plate has a shank in its centre to hold the tube and is sometimes pinned to a sole board. Ledgers are horizontal tubes which connect between the standards. Transoms rest upon the ledgers at right angles. Main transoms are placed next to the standards, they hold the standards in place and provide support for boards; intermediate transoms are those placed between the main transoms to provide extra support for boards. In Canada this style is referred to as "English". "American" has the transoms attached to the standards and is used less but has certain advantages in some situations. Since scaffolding is a physical structure, it is possible to go in and come out of scaffolding. As well as the tubes at right angles there are cross braces to increase rigidity, these are placed diagonally from ledger to ledger, next to the standards to which they are fitted. If the braces are fitted to the ledgers they are called ledger braces. To limit sway a facade brace is fitted to the face of the scaffold every 30 metres or so at an angle of 35°-55° running right from the base to the top of the scaffold and fixed at every level. Of the couplers previously mentioned, right-angle couplers join ledgers or transoms to standards, putlog or single couplers join board bearing transoms to ledgers – Non-board bearing transoms should be fixed using a right-angle coupler. Swivel couplers are to connect tubes at any other angle. The actual joints are staggered to avoid occurring at the same level in neighbouring standards. Basic scaffold dimensioning terms. No boards, bracing or couplers shown The spacing of the basic elements in the scaffold are fairly standard. For a general purpose scaffold the maximum bay length is 2.1 m, for heavier work the bay size is reduced to 2 or even 1.8 m while for inspection a bay width of up to 2.7 m is allowed. The scaffolding width is determined by the width of the boards, the minimum width allowed is 600 mm but a more typical four-board scaffold would be 870 mm wide from standard to standard. More heavy duty scaffolding can require 5, 6 or even up to 8 boards width. Often an inside board is added to reduce the gap between the inner standard and the structure. The lift height, the spacing between ledgers, is 2 m, although the base lift can be up to 2.7 m. The diagram above also shows a kicker lift, which is just 150 mm or so above the ground. Transom spacing is determined by the thickness of the boards supported, 38 mm boards require a transom spacing of no more than 1.2 m while a 50 mm board can stand a transom spacing of 2.6 m and 63 mm boards can have a maximum span of 3.25 m. The minimum overhang for all boards is 50 mm and the maximum overhang is no more than 4x the thickness of the board. Scaffolding in Foundations Good foundations are essential. Often scaffold frameworks will require more than simple base plates to safely carry and spread the load. Scaffolding can be used without base plates on concrete or similar hard surfaces, although base plates are always recommended. For surfaces like pavements or tarmac base plates are necessary. For softer or more doubtful surfaces sole boards must be used, beneath a single standard a sole board should be at least 1,000 cm² with no dimension less than 220 mm, the thickness must be at least 35 mm. For heavier duty scaffold much more substantial baulks set in concrete can be required. On uneven ground steps must be cut for the base plates, a minimum step size of around 450 mm is recommended. A working platform requires certain other elements to be safe. They must be close-boarded, have double guard rails and toe and stop boards. Safe and secure access must also be provided. Scaffolds are only rarely independent structures. To provide stability for a scaffolding (at left) framework ties are generally fixed to the adjacent building / fabric / steelwork. General practice is to attach a tie every 4m on alternate lifts (traditional scaffolding) prefabricated System scaffolds require structural connections at all frames – ie.2-3m centres (tie patterns must be provided by the System manufacturer / supplier). The ties are coupled to the scaffold as close to the junction of standard and ledger (node point) as possible. Due to recent regulation changes, scaffolding ties must support +/- loads (tie/butt loads) and lateral (shear) loads. Due to the different nature of structures there are a variety of different ties to take advantage of the opportunities. Through ties are put through structure openings such as windows. A vertical inside tube crossing the opening is attached to the scaffold by a transom and a crossing horizontal tube on the outside called a bridle tube. The gaps between the tubes and the structure surfaces are packed or wedged with timber sections to ensure a solid fit. Box ties are used to attach the scaffold to suitable pillars or comparable features. Two additional transoms are put across from the lift on each side of the feature and are joined on both sides with shorter tubes called tie tubes. When a complete box tie is impossible a l-shaped lip tie can be used to hook the scaffold to the structure, to limit inward movement an additional transom, a butt transom, is place hard against the outside face of the structure. Sometimes it is possible to use anchor ties (also called bolt ties), these are ties fitted into holes drilled in the structure. A common type is a ring bolt with an expanding wedge which is then tied to a node point. The least ‘invasive’ tie is a reveal tie. These use an opening in the structure but use a tube wedged horizontally in the opening. The reveal tube is usually held in place by a reveal screw pin (an adjustable threaded bar) and protective packing at either end. A transom tie tube links the reveal tube to the scaffold. Reveal ties are not well regarded, they rely solely on friction and need regular checking so it is not recommended that more than half of all ties be reveal ties. If it is not possible to use a safe number of ties rakers can be used. These are single tubes attached to a ledger extending out from the scaffold at an angle of less than 75° and securely founded. A transom at the base then completes a triangle back to the base of the main scaffold. Putlog scaffold As well as putlog couplers there are also putlog tubes, these have a flattened end or have been fitted with a blade. This feature allows the end of the tube to be within or rest upon the brickwork of the structure. They can be called a bricklayer’s scaffold and as such consist only of a single row of standards with a single ledger, the putlogs are transoms – attached to the ledger at one end but integrated into the bricks at the other. Spacing is as general purpose scaffold and ties are still required.
1. Traditional timber formwork. : – The form work is built on site out of timber and ply wood or moisture resistant particle board.It is easy to produce but time-consuming for larger structures, and the plywood facing has a relatively short lifespan. It is still used extensively where the labor costs are lower than the costs for procuring re-usable formwork. It is also the most flexible type of formwork, so even where other systems are in use, complicated sections may use it. 2. Engineered Formwork Systems. This formwork is built out of prefabricated modules with a metal frame (usually steel or aluminium.) and covered on the application (concrete) side with material having the wanted surface structure (steel, aluminium, timber, etc.). The two major advantages of formwork systems, compared to traditional timber formwork, are speed of construction (modular systems pin, clip, or screw together quickly) and lower life-cycle costs (barring major force, the frame is almost indestructible, while the covering if made of wood; may have to be replaced after a few – or a few dozen – uses, but if the covering is made with steel or aluminum the form can achieve up to two thousand uses depending on care and the applications). 3. Re-usable plastic formwork. These interlocking and modular systems are used to build widely variable, but relatively simple, concrete structures. The panels are lightweight and very robust. They are especially suited for low-cost, mass housing schemes Stay-In-Place formwork systems. This formwork is assembled on site, usually out of prefabricated insulating formwork. The formwork stays in place (or is simply covered with earth in case of buried structures) after the concrete has cured, and may provide thermal and acoustic insulation, space to run utilities within, or backing for finishes. Stay-In-Place structural formwork systems. These are in the shape of hollow tubes, and are usually used for columns and piers. Slab formwork (deck formwork) Some of the earliest examples of concrete slabs were built by Roman engineers. Because concrete is quite strong in resisting compressive load, but has relatively poor tensile or torsional strength, these early structures consisted of arches,vaults and domes. To mold these structure, temporary scaffolding and formwork was built in the future shape of the structure. . Timber beam slab formwork Similar to the traditional method, but stringers and joist are replaced with engineered wood beams and supports are replaced with metal props. This makes this method more systematic and reusable. Traditional slab formwork Traditional timber formwork On the dawn of the rival of concrete in slab structures, building techniques for the temporary structures were derived again from masonry and carpentry. The traditional slab formwork technique consists of supports out of lumber or young tree trunks, that support rows of stringers assembled roughly 3 to 6 feet or 1 to 2 meters apart, depending on thickness of slab. Between these stringers, joists are positioned roughly 12 inches, 30 centimeters apart upon which boards or plywood are placed. The stringers and joists are usually 4 by 4 inch or 4 by 6 inch lumber. The most common imperial plywood thickness is ¾ inch and the most common metric thickness is 21 millimeters. Metal Beam Slab Formwork Similar to the traditional method, but stringers and joist are replaced with aluminium forming systems or steel beams and supports are replaced with metal props. This also makes this method more systematic and reusable. Hand setting modular aluminum deck formwork. Handset modular aluminum formwork. Modular Slab Formwork These systems consist of prefabricated timber, steel or aluminum beams and formwork modules. Modules are often no larger than 3 to 6 feet or 1 to 2 meters in size. The beams and formwork are typically set by hand and pinned, clipped, or screwed together. The advantages of a modular system are: does not require a crane to place the formwork, speed of construction with unskilled labor, formwork modules can be removed after concrete sets leaving only beams in place prior to achieving design strength. Table or flying form systems These systems consist of slab formwork "tables" that are reused on multiple stories of a building without being dismantled. The assembled sections are either lifted per elevator or "flown" by crane from one story to the next. Once in position the gaps between the tables or table and wall are filled with "fillers". They vary in shape and size as well as their building material. The use of these systems can greatly reduce the time and manual labor involved in setting and striking the formwork. Their advantages are best utilized by large area and simple structures. It is also common for architects and engineers to design building around one of these systems. Structure A table is built much the same way as a beam formwork but the single parts of this system are connected together in a way that makes them transportable. The most common sheathing is plywood, but steel and fiberglass are also in use. The joists are either made from timber, wood I-beams, aluminium or steel. The Stringers are sometimes made of wood I-beams but usually from steel channels. These are fastened together (screwed, weld or bolted) to become a "deck". These decks are usually rectangular but can also be other shapes. Support All support systems have to be height adjustable to allow the formwork to be placed at the correct height and to be removed after the concrete is cured. Normally adjustable metal props similar to (or the same as) those used by beam slab formwork are used to support these systems. Some systems combine stringers and supports into steel or aluminium trusses. Yet other systems use metal frame shoring towers, which the decks are attached to. Another common method is to attach the formwork decks to previously cast walls or columns, thus eradicating the use of vertical props altogether. In this method, adjustable support shoes are bolted through holes (sometimes tie holes) or attached to cast anchors. Size The size of these tables can vary from 70 sqft. to 1500 sqft. or 8 m² to 150 m². There are two general approaches in this system.
- Crane handled: this approach consists of assembling or producing the tables with a large formwork area that can only be moved up a level by crane. Typical widths can be 15, 18 or 20ft. or 5 to 7 meters but their width can be limited, so that it is possible to transport them assembled, without having to pay for an oversize load. The length vary and can be up to 100ft. (or more) depending on the crane capacity. After the concrete is cured, the decks are lowered and moved with rollers or trolleys to the edge of the building. From then on the protruding side of the table is lifted by crane whiles the rest of the table is rolled out of the building. After the center of gravity is outside of the building the table reattached to another crane and flown to the next level or position.
- Crane fork or elevator handled:
This technique is fairly common in the United States and east Asian countries. The advantages of this approach are the further reduction of manual labor time and cost per area of slab and a simple and systematic building technique. The disadvantages of this approach are the necessary high lifting capacity of building site cranes, additional expensive crane time, higher material costs and little flexibility.
By this approach the tables are limited in size and weight. Typical widths are between 6 to 10 ft or 2 to 3 meters, typical lengths are between 12 and 20ft or 4 to 7 meters, though table sizes may vary in size and form. The major distinction of this approach is that the tables are lifted either with a crane transport fork or by material platform elevators attached to the side of the building. They are usually transported horizontally to the elevator or crane lifting platform single handedly with shifting trolleys depending on their size and construction. Final positioning adjustments can be made by trolley. This technique enjoys popularity in the US, Europe and generally in high labor cost countries. The advantages of this approach in comparison to beam formwork or modular formwork is a further reduction of labor time and cost. Smaller tables are generally easier to customize around geometrically complicated buildings, (round or non rectangular) or to form around columns in comparison to their large counterparts. The disadvantages of this approach are the higher material costs and increased crane time (if lifted with crane fork).
For removable forms, once the concrete has been poured into formwork and has set (or cured), the formwork is struck or stripped (removed) to expose the finished concrete. The time between pouring and formwork stripping depends on the job specifications, the cure required, and whether the form is supporting any weight, but is usually at least 24 hours after the pour is completed. For example, the California Department of Transportation requires the forms to be in place for 1-7 days after pouring, while the Washington State Department of Transportation requires the forms to stay in place for 3 days with a damp blanket on the outside.
Spectacular accidents have occurred when the forms were either removed too soon or had been under-designed to carry the load imposed by the weight of the uncured concrete. Less critical and much more common (though no less embarrassing and often costly) are those cases in which underdesigned formwork bends or breaks during the filling process (especially if filled with a high-pressure concrete pump). This then results in fresh concrete escaping out of the formwork in a form blowout, often in large quantities.
Concrete exerts less pressure against the forms as it hardens, so forms are usually designed to withstand a number of feet per hour of pour rate to give the concrete at the bottom time to firm up.
The hardening is an asymptotic process, meaning that most of the final strength will be achieved after a r short time, though some further hardening can occur depending on the cement type and admixtures.
Wet concrete also applies hydrostatic pressure to formwork. The pressure at the bottom of the form is therefore greater than at the top. In the illustration of the column formwork to the right, the ‘column clamps’ are closer together at the bottom. Note that the column is braced with steel adjustable ‘formwork props’ and uses 20 mm ‘through bolts’ to further support the long side of the column.