Safety for erecting and working on scaffolds gets a good deal of attention, but tips for taking down scaffolds are an often-overlooked aspect. But the truth of the matter is, dismantling scaffolding safely and efficiently requires just as much care and know-how as putting it up.
It’s pretty common on construction sites for anyone on the crew to be told to take down scaffolds, even though it should be the job of people specifically trained to do it properly. Also, as it’s part of cleanup, workers often rush the dismantling in an effort to wrap things up quickly.
To maximize safety and productivity at the job site, consider the information below.
Tips for Dismantling Scaffolds
- Workers should be trained to take down scaffolding before being asked/allowed to do it
- All crew dismantling the scaffold must wear appropriate personal safety gear, including hard hats, protective gloves, protective boots, and any other gear necessitated by site conditions
- Clear a convenient, adequate space in which to stack scaffold components in an organized, stable manner
- Ensure that there’s a clear, minimal path to carry and load scaffold components onto the truck that will transport them
- Examine the full area around the base of the scaffold for potential hazards like debris, tools or materials, exposed rebar, stub piping, etc.; remove or otherwise address these concerns
- Inspect the scaffold structure, including ties, planks, plank ends and whether they’re securely resting on load-bearing elements, bracing, etc. to ensure stability
- Replace any missing ties or braces
- Replace or remove damaged or defective plank prior to dismantling; never return damaged or defective plank to inventory
- Disassemble scaffold from the top down, starting with guardrails and posts
- Lower components down carefully by hand, rope, or hoist, making sure nobody is standing where objects can fall on them; never toss or drop components
- Don’t stack components anywhere on the scaffold as they’re detached; get them directly to the ground and neatly stacked in the cleared area
- Partially remove the top platform and install it on the lift below; remove the remainder from the lift below
- Continue taking down the scaffold in the reverse order it was built
- For pinned scaffolding, only remove pins at the frame base
- Keep coupling pins fastened to the top of the frame below to avoid handling them from an elevated position and risk dropping them
- Never remove scaffold ties until the level above has been fully dismantled down to the tie level
- Inspect all scaffold components after removal and separate and damaged parts that need to be repaired or disposed of
- Avoid leaving up a partially disassembled scaffold; if you must, post clear warning signs at every access point
- Refrain from taking down a scaffold in high wind, rain, snow, or other potentially hazardous conditions