On the surface, owning scaffolding is very attractive. Why pay rent to someone else? Why wait for it to be delivered?
One size fits all. Or does it?
A scaffold is not a single item. It is a modular system. Modular systems comprise of fixed length items with standard joining mechanisms. There are many components that vary in type and length. The lengths determine the width, length and height of a scaffold. This enables much faster assembly times, which is critical in the industry.
Often scaffolding is purchased with a specific job or use in mind. So, the decision to purchase is based on constant utilisation of the scaffold, otherwise, hiring is going to be much cheaper. The rates for hiring scaffolding compared with the initial capital outlay are very attractive.
If the work is repetitive over a long period and is always in the same area and is always the same height from the ground then purchasing is a sound decision. Your heights, widths and lengths are consistent every time. If, for some reason your site has variations, i.e. the area where the scaffold is going is very narrow or there are obstacles on the ground, the ground has a severe slope, or there are protrusions on the work face, your purchased scaffold may not fit. So this raises the question, “is your purchased scaffold “fit for purpose”? The obvious solution is to own a variety of components that cater for all possible site variations. This is not the most cost effective investment you could make.
Storage and transport
Scaffolding is stored in separate bundles for ease of identification and selection. The downside is, this takes up more space in a warehouse or yard. The upside is, it is there whenever you need it. No waiting! Well, you still have to select and sort the components you require for a particular job. Once this is achieved, it has to be loaded onto transport. Is your own vehicle capable of carrying this equipment or do you require a transport company? How do you load it? Even if the system is aluminium there are bundles of components that will require lifting with a forklift. When you reach the job site the same issues exist. Often the equipment is transported on a crane truck so unloading is relatively simple.
Hire equipment arrives on site clean and maintained. A hire company also has certain regulations that must be adhered to so the equipment remains in a sound and safe condition. If you are the owner of scaffolding you are not exempt from these regulations.
Scaffold design and scaffold regulations
A hire company will be responsible for the design of the scaffold. They will ensure that it passes all the design criteria, i.e. load capacity, stability, access, and safety requirements. When it is delivered to site it will comply with all the regulations and a Safe Work Method Statement will be prepared that ensures any potential safety hazards have been addressed.
Currently, a Certificate of Competency, i.e. a scaffold ticket is not required to erect a scaffold under 4.00 metres in height. This does not mean there are no regulations to consider. There is still a responsibility to ensure that a scaffold is erected by a competent person and that it is erected in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. So, there are many things to consider. Even scaffolds under 4.00 metres in height can be unstable thus risking the possibility of accidents or damage to property. The old saying “leave it to the experts” certainly applies with scaffolding. Scaffold companies employ experienced staff and qualified scaffolders.
Consider the positive benefits of hiring a scaffold from a reputable company, the storage, the maintenance, range of components, the scaffold design, the transport, and erection, these far outweigh the belief that owning a scaffold is convenient and economical.