Why Experience is a Must: Swing Stage Scaffolding for High Rises
Posted Nov 16, 2020 by Dave Scaturro
Let’s start with the basics. What is swing stage scaffolding? Swing stage scaffolding is exactly what it sounds like: a platform stage that swings from a building. It has stirrups on each end that connect to ropes or cables, which suspend it in the air. It is used to transport workers and their tools and materials as high as they need to go to perform a job. Since that can take them to the highest floors of some of the highest buildings, safety considerations are vital. It just happens that swing stages are among the safest to use when done correctly and are even safer in the hands of an experienced user.
Swing Stages at a Glance
Swing stages are the most common type of suspended scaffolding, and this is for many reasons, the first being their versatility. Swing stages can be easily installed, dismantled, and relocated from place to place; they have a very user-friendly operating system. They also make it easier to get to areas that may be inaccessible for other types of scaffolding or man lifts. This is why they are more notably used by window washers and painters on tall buildings. At Alpine, we use them on mid and high-rises, offices, warehouses, and retail malls.
Swing Stage Safety
Another reason swing stages are in such common use is their safety. As in any other type of scaffolding, swing stage scaffolding is safe when all of the right precautions are taken to ensure proper use.
1. Build to Specification
The first precaution to take when operating a swing-stage scaffold is to confirm that the scaffold is built to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Inspect your platform and guardrails to make sure that the base is sturdy and all three rails are in place. Check your lines. Look for any nicks, corrosion, bird-caging, or general wear and tear, and take any and all defects seriously. Finally, test your motors and breaks. Make sure they are functional and operating correctly.
2. Test Your Scaffold at a Low Height
One rule of thumb to ensure your scaffold’s safety would be, to raise the scaffold six inches off the ground and jump. If there are no visible signs of distress or sounds, your scaffold is sturdy. I know this may sound dangerous, but to put it another way: Would you rather fall six inches, or six stories? Scaffolds and all of their components should be able to hold four times their maximum intended load. For instance, if a scaffold was meant to hold up to 1,000 lbs, then it should be able to hold 4,000 lbs without failure. The six-inch test is a good baseline for testing your swing stage safely.
3. Employ a Fall-Arrest System!
Whenever you are using a suspended scaffold system, you must use a personal fall-arrest system for each worker using it. A personal fall-arrest system consists of five main components: an anchor point, a lifeline, a connector, a deceleration device, and a body harness. It is important to remember that workers should be independently tied off from the scaffold in case system failure. Workers should always ensure their free-fall distance is limited to 6 feet or less by following proper fall-protection techniques. Remember, a falling worker can fall up to 18.5 feet in a personal fall-arrest system with a lanyard, so if the ground or any other object is within 18.5 feet of the anchor point, use an SRL or another shortstop fall protection system.
Experience and Safety Go Hand in Hand
In the state of New Jersey, suspended scaffolding training is not a requirement. However, here at Alpine Painting, we take safety very seriously, and experienced swing stage users are often safe users. This is why we choose to have each of our field workers extensively trained in all types of scaffolding, including suspended scaffolding. For more tips on scaffolding safety, visit www.osha.gov or our website at www.alpinepainting.com.