As you know, scaffolding is commonly used in painting and construction jobs where it is simply easier to have additional secured floors to help reach otherwise impossible to access areas. That being said, on many jobs, workers find that the scaffolding provided simply isn’t enough to reach certain sites or that it hasn’t been adequately placed in order to reach it. Can you put a ladder on scaffolding to help you gain more height?
In short, no. It is never safe to use a ladder on scaffolding and it could, in fact, be a dangerous and life-threatening mistake.
If you want to get onto a second story roof safely, or work regularly at height, careful preparation is vital. In our guide, we will take a closer look at why using a ladder on scaffolding is a bad idea and what you can do instead.
Is It Safe to Put a Ladder on Scaffolding?
No, it is never safe to use a ladder on scaffolding. Period! It simply isn’t secure or stable enough for you to warrant doing so.
First of all, your scaffolding is usually there to avoid you having to use a ladder. In fact, scaffolding is not always used on high buildings and is sometimes employed on smaller houses, boats, and other projects at height.
The main reason for having scaffolding in the first part is that it can, for the most part, hold a lot of weight, making it easier to access all of your needed areas while bringing tools and equipment without having to balance on a ladder. Therefore, having to then bring a ladder as well would seem redundant.
Of course, mistakes can happen. In plenty of situations, you can find yourself without enough scaffolding, or it may be in the wrong place, meaning either that you may have to buy more – or that you have to dismount and move the scaffolding, rebuilding it somewhere else. This can be a pain, but trust us, it is wholly necessary in the face of potentially adding a ladder on top.
Ladders are never secure on scaffolding, no matter how strong they are or how well-designed they may be. It’s therefore likely to be very easy to fall from a ladder on scaffolding. Given that scaffolding is usually very strong and can even hold up to three to four times its weight, people often assume that adding a small ladder will not cause any harm. However, you need to consider your own weight, as well as any tools, and how you actually secure the ladder.
The worst-case scenario in setting up a ladder on scaffolding is a dire one – you could fall and injure yourself, injure someone else, or worse.
Our recommendation, should you need extra height or reach, is to simply add more scaffolding. Pick one option – and never mix the two.
How Can I Avoid Putting a Ladder on Scaffolding?
There are plenty of ways of avoiding having to use a ladder on your scaffolding. You can simply start by adding more scaffolding. Of course, this may take you a little longer to set up and could even require you to go buy more; however, if it ensures the safety of those working on the scaffolding, then it is absolutely worth it.
Moreover, you may simply need to move the scaffolding slightly. Again, of course, to ensure that the scaffolding is secure, this will likely require you to dismantle and rebuild the scaffolding, which will cost you time and money. However, when it comes to your safety, and/or that of your workers, it is worth the extra expense!
Sometimes, you may not even need scaffolding at all. Try and work out if you can safely set up a ladder to get you where you need to be – use our ladder height chart as a great starting point.
How Much Weight Can Scaffolding Carry?
Generally, you shouldn’t load up more than 150kg on a medium scaffolding board and expect to stay safe. This is also a limit, not a target. If in doubt, travel as lightly as possible across your scaffolding.
However, not all scaffolding is the same. Some units are simply intended to carry a few workers and some lightweight tools, whereas other scaffolding is built to hold several workers with lots of tools and equipment. Of course, the weight capacity of the scaffolding usually depends on the jobs for which it is intended. If you have your own personal scaffold for painting, then it will not have the same strength as a setup for professional construction.
Keep in mind, too, that the weight capacity of your scaffolding will not determine its capacity to hold your ladder. It is not always about the strength of the scaffolding (although that does play a part). It’s all about security and stability – so even if your scaffold can technically hold the weight of your ladder, that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and try it.
Many of us will have seen or heard of people trying to use ladders with scaffolding, even in the professional world, but it is never a good idea. Those who tell you they have tried it and have witnessed no problems should still not be copied – it’s a life or death scenario.
Even if you have the best adjustable ladder for stairs or working at height, always take the time to readjust or add scaffolding, and prevent what could easily be a fatal accident.