Skyline Scaffolding: Building For The World’s Tallest Buildings

Humans have always had a desire to build big and reach for the stars. The sudden obsession with height began in 1884 when the Home Insurance Building in Chicago pierced the skyline and paved the way for the future of construction. Ever since then, construction companies all around the world have found ways to build bigger and to build smarter, with the title of ‘World’s Tallest Building’ becoming the ultimate goal.

The HIB Building rose to a comparatively modest 138 feet in comparison to the 2,720 feet Burj Khalifa that resides in Dubai. But how did we, as a race, reach such heights from such humble beginnings?

One of the most important and underestimated elements of constructing these marvels is skyline scaffolding. These structures act as a playground for the workforce that is tasked with building these monuments, so their importance must not be undermined.

Working at height is fraught with danger, so one would expect health and safety protocols to increase in correlation with the height of a building, right? Well, not all the time.

The construction of skyscrapers in Hong Kong could not be more different to the way we assemble our buildings back home. The rule book was seemingly tossed out of the window for Hong Kong, as their workers, dubbed ‘Spiders’, climb without harnesses up their bamboo frames. At face value, the idea seems ludicrous, but there is science behind the madness.

Bamboo is notoriously strong, and it is tied together with vines, contributing to the overall strength of the frames. Besides, this method of skyline scaffolding is traditional and is how many of the workers enter into the industry. To them, it is the only way they know.

The dangers of bamboo scaffolding are apparent, but the universal challenges of skyline scaffolding are heightened when constructing skyscrapers. The laws of physics state that the higher you climb, the windier it gets. That is what the architects and planners of the Khalifa had to contend with when plotting the world’s tallest building.

Thankfully for the scaffolders, there was a relatively straightforward way of combating this ever-present risk. Having learned from the mistakes of Taiwan which saw scaffolding ripped from the side of a building during a typhoon, constructors shaped the scaffolding to be partly inside the structure and not solely on the outside and clinging on. This made the metal frames a lot sturdier and a lot safer.

Unlike the spider-climbers in Hong Kong, workers on the Burj were clipped on to their frames at all times with harnesses, eliminating the most apparent danger of working 2,000-odd feet up in the sky.

It seems unfathomable to build taller than the Burj Khalifa, but as science and technology development, it is always possible. Besides; back in 1884, the people of Chicago, the United States, and the world, would never have dreamt of a building that peaks at 2,700 feet, so who knows?

3 Golden Rules For Working at Height

Scaffolding is unlike any other 9 to 5 job. It is an area of work that is subject to the weather, tricky environments and, most notably, the factor of working at height. Because of these extraordinary conditions, scaffolding is an industry that requires immense skill and an extensive level of training. Due to the specialist nature of this line of work, scaffolders must adhere to strict health and safety protocols, and with that in mind, Safeway Scaffolding asks the question, “what are the most important factors in ensuring every scaffolding site is a safe one”?

Plan Ahead

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, as the old adage goes. This sentiment could not be more true for scaffolders and their industry. To prepare for working at height, scaffolders must be suitably qualified and understand the risks of every scaffolding site; this is the first step in ensuring that every site is safe and secure. There are a number of courses and training programmes available for prospective scaffolders to learn their trade, and you can find out more about how to become a scaffolder in our recent blog post.

The next step in preparing for a site is to make sure the environment is safe and that every possible eventuality is accounted for. The weather must be assessed and any other extraneous factors which may affect your ability to work effectively. When working at height, it is always best to air on the side of caution and plan every single action to avoid any mishaps.

Pick The Right Equipment

Depending on the type of work you are carrying out, you may need a variety of tools for your site. Working at height is like any other construction site, so the basic safety equipment of a hard hat, protective goggles and steel toe capped boots, as well as hi-vis jackets,  are still necessary. To contend with the fact of working at height, however, scaffolders may have to equip themselves with harnesses and bungee lanyards for that added protection and peace of mind.

The importance of checking your equipment before you start your work cannot be stressed enough. Do not compromise on the quality of your equipment, and if necessary, postpone any work if your tools are missing or damaged. There are workplace guidelines in place to ensure that all workers are in the correct gear on site, and these rules are in place for the protection of yourself and those around you, so make sure you conform to these guidelines at all times.

Keep An Eye Out

Continuously assessing and reviewing your site is the key to ensuring your site remains safe throughout the entirety of your job. When working at height, you are even more susceptible to the elements, so pay close attention to the conditions and postpone any work if the weather reaches a stage where it is putting you and your team at risk or if it is limiting the quality and effectiveness of your work.

Contact

These golden rules have been designed to act as the perfect checklist for your site, to ensure it is completely safe and continues to be in the distant future. For more information on our services, contact Safeway Scaffolding on 0845 601 7738 or use our online form to leave us a message.