Understand the difference in the use of access platforms and scaffolds in a construction work

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Despite having the function of enabling movements and access of people and materials from one point of a work to another for the performance of services, both in distance and in height, access platforms and scaffolds have different functions. They comprise two different types of access engineering: dynamic — related to access platforms — and static, which includes scaffolds and stairways.

Do you want to know more about this subject? Then, check today’s post. Let’s talk a little bit about these two well-known elements of access engineering, presenting the main differences between them. We will also present the advantages and disadvantages of their use and the cases where each one of these elements is recommended, to help you make this decision in the worksite.

Basic differences

The main difference between platforms and scaffolds is in regard the form of access. Platforms are mobile and, for that reason, they can be moved along with the services.

Scaffolds, on the other side, are usually static. They don’t move and have a limited coverage area. Even suspended scaffolds are limited: height is variable, but they run in a horizontal axis and for that reason they have a limited range of action.

Advantages and disadvantages

In most cases, the scaffolds are more comfortable for the performance of the services than lift platforms. But that does not mean that they are safer! Actually, the scaffolds are one of the main causes of work embargo due to failures in the performance that compromise safety.

Regarding costs, in general the scaffolding is usually the most cost-efficient solution. However, at great heights the utilization of platforms becomes recommendable and more advantageous. Despite the lift platforms having higher rental values than fixed scaffolds, they can represent the solution with the lower final cost, considering the added expenses from the use of scaffolds, such as assembly.

A disadvantage of the adoption of the scaffolds is related to the terrain conditions. It is assumed that they are seated on a plane base — in order to ensure stability. But only one can be assembled in several levels of terrain plateaus.

In steep terrains, the access platform ends up being a more recommendable solution. in cases of platforms with 4×4 traction, it is possible to move them on terrains with inclination of up to 30° in ramps and 45° in slopes. Even so, there is some limitations of the operational point of view: for the operation, the inclination is very reduced — from 2.5° to 4.5°.

When should they be used

The decision on the utilization can be mainly based in the type of service to be carried out. For quick, punctual works, aerial platforms are a practical and versatile solution. For larger, longer works, scaffolds are more recommendable.

Another item that must be considered is the quantity of people, materials and type of tools involved: most lift platforms have capacity for 2 occupants plus tools, with maximal load around 230 kg. Pantographic platforms, on their turn, can provide larger capacities, but they are specific equipment that have several operating restrictions.

It is good to highlight that scaffolding sizing and projects must be made only by duly qualified professionals, with the issuance of the respective Technical Responsibility Annotation.

In the case of platforms, only a duly qualified operator is required. Even so, their installing, maintenance and periodic inspection must be supervised by a legally certified professional.

The access engineering solutions and technologies are many. In order to choose the most adequate alternative, it is necessary to evaluate three factors together: material cost, labor cost, and logistics cost.

Regardless of the solution adopted, it is necessary to maintain strict compliance with the safety standards, as per Regulatory Standard (“NR”) 18 and Brazilian Standard (“NBR”) 6494, after all this decision may considerably impact the progress of the services and the levels of work productivity and management .

And you? Are you prepared to make the right decision regarding the access engineering items? Leave a comment in our post and share your management experience!