Types of Scaffolds

Updated April 17, 2017

Scaffolding is a fundamental part of any construction site, as it allows workers to carry out their tasks at a certain height. Scaffolding must be regularly checked to ensure that it is safe to use and that it has been designed to take the loads that will be imposed upon it. There are a number of different types of scaffolding available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Self Supporting

Self-supporting scaffolding is the most common type of scaffolding seen on construction sites. It is formed by a number of long vertical poles placed in the ground, with horizontal and diagonal bracing ensuring sturdiness. A number of platforms at different heights run along the scaffolding and allow access for site workers to carry out their tasks. As well as this type of static scaffolding, it is also possible to purchase or hire mobile tower scaffolds, which are moved around with the aid of wheels.

Suspension Scaffolding

Suspension scaffolding is commonly used on high-rise buildings for carrying out external repairs and maintenance, such as cleaning windows. Unlike self-supporting scaffolding, it is not in contact with the ground; instead, as the name suggests, it is suspended from the top of the building using strong ropes and pulleys. The platform can be winched up or down to the desired height without the need to build a large scaffolding system from the ground up.


Each scaffolding structure, whether self-supporting or suspended, must be carefully and accurately designed to take not only the weight of any workers or materials on the scaffolding, but the weight of the scaffolding material itself. Designs can be relatively simple for a small project, such as a house, to very detailed and intricate for more complex structures.

Health & Safety

Operating at any height poses a great health and safety risk to the worker on the scaffold and any other personnel nearby. The scaffold could collapse or someone could fall, both scenarios risking extensive injury and even death. Because of this, it is important that all scaffolding materials and equipment are inspected daily and well-maintained to ensure it is of the highest quality possible. Any unsafe scaffolding should not be used until it has been repaired.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.