Structural support is central to keeping your crew safe on a construction site. While planning your safety measures, it is important to understand the difference between scaffolding and structural shoring. Scaffolding and shoring systems, while both support work on a site, serve different purposes with different safety parameters.
- What it is: Scaffolding is a temporary structure supporting crew members and their materials as they work. It is built in a vertical fashion, with workers standing on platforms.
- Purpose: Workers stand or kneel on the scaffolding platforms as they lay bricks, paint, etc. Scaffolding is generally used for maintenance on sections of a building or bridge.
- Safety: According to OSHA data, faulty scaffolding causes 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths each year. Proper safety is crucial. It is vital for the platform to be wide enough to hold the worker and equipment, ensuring that the entire structure is stable to prevent falls.
- Scaffolding is NOT meant to support buildings, walls or roof structures. It is only meant to support workers on the perimeter of a structure or to provide workers a platform to access an interior ceiling or wall of a structure. Scaffolding does not require an engineering certification to be constructed. Structural shoring, on the other hand, does require engineered plans.
- What It Is: Shoring systems are temporary structures designed to support buildings or bridges during construction. Structural shoring includes heavy duty modular steel components to create legs and steel towers to support load bearing supports capable of sustaining 50,000 to 490,000 lbs per leg. Types of shoring include raking or inclined shores, needling, horizontal shores, and dead or vertical shores.
- Purpose: Structural shoring is a temporary system used for building construction, demolition, renovation or other heavy propping applications such as bridge repairs. Propping legs can be constructed to form towers that act as piers for bridges while being repaired. Shoring for propping or needling applications prevents structures’ walls from shifting, bulging or caving. Shoring supports an entire structure of a building by being installed on multiple floors within the building.
- Safety Structural shoring is designed to keep structures safely propped. Almost as important as the steel and design itself is acute knowledge on how to install the shoring. Training is a key component to construction. There are many factors that go into designing a structural shoring system to accommodate the requirements of the structure such as load factor, ground conditions, dimensions of the structure, environment (sway), and what will be bearing down (cranes) on the structure during construction. For these reasons, structural shoring is an engineered product that must be designed and certified by a professional engineer.
To prevent construction site accidents, it is imperative that your team understands the distinction between scaffolding and shoring. Using the right tool to do the job well — and safely — is the ultimate goal.