Scaffolding refers to a temporary structure used to support materials and people during the repair or construction of structures. Bamboo -- a tree-based material often used for scaffolding in East and Southeast Asia -- might be considered less safe than other scaffolding materials due to the number of reported accidents.
Bamboo scaffolding consists of a base made up of bamboo poles assembled in multiple layers, and tied together with bamboo string. Cross braces -- or poles tied across multiple base layers in an X pattern -- add extra stability. Bamboo poles secured over each side of the base act as safety rails.
According a 1997 Comparitive Study on Safety and Application of Bamboo and Metal Scaffolding in Hong Kong, 30 per cent of construction site, fall-related fatal accidents were attributed to bamboo scaffolding falls. Factors cited in these accidents include the low strength and stability of bamboo compared to other materials, as well as the lack of Hong Kong regulations for bamboo scaffold construction.
Steel scaffolding consists of a wooden base braced by steel tubing. Metal plates typically reinforce the board ends of the base. The Comparitive Study on Safety and Application of Bamboo and Metal Scaffolding in Hong Kong analysed the risk of accident in bamboo scaffolding to be .61 per cent, compared to the significantly lower .39 accident risk in steel scaffolding.