Two teams, one scaffold tower, one day!

A few weeks ago some of the Conservation and Premises teams took part in a training day to learn how to build and use a scaffold tower. Whilst this may seem like a job best left to the builders, a house this size with ceilings reaching up to 8 / 9 metres, a scaffold tower is an integral part of our tool kit. Hanging the ballroom curtains, changing light bulbs, cleaning ceilings, walls and paintings are just some of the jobs we undertake using the scaffold tower.  Outside Conservators, contractors and a host of others make good use of it too and so we need to know the best and safest methods!

Sarah and Melinda were being re-trained, while for us (Alex & Zena) this was the first time we had training.  Two of the Conservation Team volunteers, Lolly and Hannah, took part too.

Melinda and Sarah getting equipment to the top of the scaffold ready to tackle the dust and cobwebs!

Melinda and Sarah getting equipment to the top of the scaffold ready to tackle the dust and cobwebs!

The day consisted of a morning in the classroom learning the theory behind using the tower. This included how to build it, as well as understanding the current legislation surrounding tower scaffolds. We then put our new skills to practical use in the afternoon!   Each member of the team had to build the base including attaching the stabilizers, then safely deconstruct it.

Attaching stabilizers (or outriggers) or to make sure the tower does not move or topple over, the wider the stabilizers the higher the tower can be built.

We then went outside in Stable Court to use our scaffolding skills by working in two teams to build the tower to its full height.   Stable Court is a very uneven surface and it took us a while to make sure the tower was level by raising legs and lowering others until the spirit level was happy and Richard (our instructor) was too!

Putting the base together.

With the base in a safe position to my end sections are attached while the second platform is put it, as Emily looks on from the work truck.  The platforms are heavy and awkward to position, a lot of wiggling, sidestepping, and ‘to me to youing’… and then finally in its where you want it.

It is important that there are two diagonal bars on each side forming an X. This not only ensures the rigidity of the tower but also stops us from falling off the platform, very important!

Another heavy item, some of us (well Zena in particular) were just too small to place this, thank goodness a scaffold tower is built by a team!

With the second platform in position it was time to add more end sections to get the tower to its full height.

Stretch Hannah!

Finally the toe boards were put in place. These ensure equipment and tools are not kicked off the platform and falling on anyone below. Our final test was to climb to the top confidently, and shake the tower with all our might to satisfy Richard that we were not scared of heights! Unfortunately the heavens opened and Richard had to dismantle the tower at lightning speed so that we could continue in the dry of the barn.

Cold and wet, we ended the day as qualified scaffoldologists!

Alex and Zena


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