Last edited 25 Nov 2020

How to remove scaffolding

Scaffolding provides a temporary, safe working platform for activities such as:

It is formed from individual tubes and joints or, proprietary components. For more information, see: Scaffolding.

High-quality workmanship and careful inspection is vital for the erection and dismantling of scaffolding, which must be undertaken by competent personal under supervision. For more information, see: Scaffold register.

Construction workers sometimes rush when dismantling scaffolding in an effort to finish on site quickly, involving workers without adequate training, and proceeding during unsuitable conditions. But the safe and efficient dismantling of scaffolding demands as much training and careful consideration as its erection. Unless it is unavoidable, scaffolding should not be taken down in potentially hazardous conditions such as high winds, rain, snow, and so on.

The first step in the dismantling process is to clear a space where the scaffolding components can be set down and stacked in an organised and safe manner. Access for a vehicle to transport the components to a loading area should be provided wherever possible with a clear path to carry them from the structure.

Workers should have all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety boots, hard hats, gloves and protective eyewear to guard against the risk of falling materials. When on the scaffold itself, safety harnesses may be necessary. Particualr care should be taken, as during the course of the scaffold being used, edges can become sharp and pose risks to those dismantling.

The scaffold structure should then be examined from the base to the top for any visible hazards, loose items on the working platforms, or hung items on the piping. Ties, braces or timber that has been loosened or removed should be put back in place before dismantling begins.

The process of dismantling proceeds in the reverse order of erection, beginning at the top with the piping and guardrail before proceeding to the platform planking. The components can be passed down from person-to-person, or lowered to the ground using a rope system or hoist. They should not be stacked or left on the structure temporarily but brought to the ground straight away. Care should be taken to ensure that no one is stood directly below where the components are being dismantled, and they should never be thrown off the structure to the ground.

Part of the platform planking will need to be removed while still being used, and the remainder removed from the section beneath. Only once the entire platform being supported has been removed should the ties securing the structure to the building be removed.

The scaffolding components should be inspected when they have been dismantled and those that need to be disposed of set to one side away from those that are fit for re-use.

A partially-dismantled scaffold should not be left standing for any longer than is necessary, but if it cannot be avoided then clear warning signs should be provided at access points.

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