Traditional scaffolding, also known as pipe and fitting scaffolding, has been an industry standard since the Egyptians used it to make the pyramids; the Greeks used scaffolding in the early 5th century B.C., and the Chinese used bamboo to build very early tall buildings. In fact, in some areas of Asia, bamboo and natural twine are still used as scaffolding material.
Traditional scaffolding is versatile, and can be reconfigured to fit any job site; its use however is usually reserved to work on taller buildings. Often today’s DIY building projects are using scaffolding towers because they are easier to erect and dismantle, or move on site. They provide easy and safe access and descent from the work area by incorporating stairs or ladders within the tower its self.
The question of whether to use traditional scaffolding or a scaffolding tower is often answered by the degree of safety and simplicity needed for the job. Today the questions of cost effectiveness and safety are more important than ever. OSHA is very critical of contractors who use what they consider to be marginal scaffolding systems that result in worker injury or even death. Tower scaffolds are a cost effective alternative when purchased by builders who previously used contract scaffolding.
Today the materials used to make scaffolding have evolved to include all the durable synthetics that engineers have deemed to be safe to hold the weight required for the job. This can be steel, aluminum or one of a variety of composites that may include polyester or nylon with glass filament for the pipes and couplings, and aluminum or seasoned lumber or a laminate for the boards. There are a number of alloys on the market for scaffold manufacture.
There are a multitude of government requirements on the quality of scaffolding materials. These can be found on the OSHA website and they are constantly being revised. To OSHA safety means stabilization of scaffolding, training of employees, and using the appropriate scaffolding system for the job. Booklets and assistive material is available to enhance compliance with OSHA rules for any scaffolding system by contacting them directly.
If your question is should you use traditional scaffolding system or a scaffold tower, the answer is in your requirements for safe ascent and descent; your ability to erect and dismantle the scaffolding and your method transporting the scaffolding on site and to different job sites. The bottom line to a cost conscious contractor is the minimal cost to achieve the best performance possible.