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May 25, 2011 7:00 AM CDT

Renting Adjustable Scaffolding

The advantages of renting

By

Adjustable scaffolding allows masons to work waist high, the perfect level for maximum production.

Adjustable scaffolding allows masons to work waist high, the perfect level for maximum production.
Anyone in the equipment supply industry, especially adjustable scaffolding, travels extensively. We have been to every state setting up, training and selling scaffold. As I travel around the country, contractors constantly ask the same questions, “How is the rest of the country doing?” or “Where are the busiest areas?” What they mean is, “Where's the work?” Except for a few areas, the rest of the country is doing the same as you (you probably know where those areas are, because those out-of-town contractors are in your area going after jobs). There is work, but there is little or no money in the jobs. There is a lot of bidding, but the numbers continue to be tight. Contractors have to get creative and innovative to get an edge.

How are we, EZ Scaffold, doing? Rentals are very good, about as good as they have ever been. Sales are down dramatically. As an American manufacturer, we need both so we are doing ok. This tells me that people are working. However, they went for so long with little or no work that they have enough money to start the jobs, but will have to wait to purchase equipment. I expect that a large portion of our rentals will turn into purchases (masons, as a whole, don’t like to rent). This raises a question, why would you rent adjustable scaffold if you own frames? Simple: production and safety.

Production

In an old Masonry magazine article written by Bruce A. Suprenant, he references an inde- pendent study by the University of Texas, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that shows using adjustable scaffolding rather than conventional tubular scaffolds increased mason productivity by more than 20 percent (should be much more). He goes on to illustrate how just a 10 percent increase in production can double your profit. These days, it could be the difference between getting or not getting a job.

How? First the scaffold is completely assembled on the ground and can be moved assembled to heights of 45 feet with a forklift and 90 feet with a crane (using EZ Scaffold specifications; consult your manufacturer if not using EZ Scaffold). Assembling on the ground speeds up the initial installation compared to climbing the scaffold, carrying heavy frames and attempting to line the coupling pins up. It also is difficult and time-consuming to get equipment to the installer. When you assemble on the ground, the installer does not have to wait. Everything he needs is right there.

After this stage, the scaffold can be moved fully assembled. Little or no dismantle is necessary to move the scaffold from one wall to the next. A quick side note: These are the stages that separate my more successful customers from everyone else. I don’t know how many times I go out on a job for initial training, and they give me a guy they just hired yesterday who, more times than not, won’t be there to finish the job. This may sound like a salesman talking, but scaffold is the life blood of the job. If your men do not have a safe place to work and are waiting on scaffold to be built, no bricks are getting in the wall. You should put one of your best men on scaffolding.

Next, with adjustable scaffold, masons work at a waist high level. This is the perfect level for maximum production. Since the mason is working at a comfortable level, the mason’s fatigue is limited, and he continues to get his best production all day. Since the labors are not raising boards, all they have to do is keep the mason stocked. The less time the mason is waiting for material, the better his production. One of my customers in Pennsylvania told me the other day that they are doing well, and that they would not have half the work they have, if they weren’t using adjustable scaffold.

Safety

The first place OSHA and safety inspectors go when they come on site is to the scaffold. According to OSHA, scaffold-related issues have been the No. 1 and No. 2 most often cited and highest assessed penalties. Whether it is lost production, a fine or, worse, an accident, scaffold that is not set up correctly will cost you money.

There is a lot of military work out there. Most know that it is tough doing military work, especially for the first time. Because of this, the competition is reduced, and there is more money in the jobs. Many contractors who never did military work before due to the strict enforcement of safety regulations are broadening their scopes and going after this work. Military personnel are more like- ly than OSHA to stop work until a safety issue has been resolved or justified. I get calls all the time, “Clint, I need your help. They have me shut down.” If you don’t have the right equipment and trained personnel, you don’t work.

Proper training is most important for a successful job. This goes back to my previous side note. The most successful contractors put one of their best personnel on scaffolding and provide him with the tools and training needed. The first thing safety inspectors ask is, “Who is the competent person on site?” Your foreman or superintendent should not be the only competent person on site. He has too much to do, and safety personnel will not accept him. Your competent person should be trained. They will ask him product specific questions like, “What is the capacity?” and “How high can you go before you tie off?” Most manufacturers provide training at little or no cost. Our main goal is to keep you using the scaffold safely and productively. Yes, we want you to be safe, but it all comes back to money. The more successful you are, the more scaffold you will buy.

Adjustable scaffold is the best scaffold for providing a safe platform on cut up walls and keeping it that way all the way up the wall. Since it is adjustable, there is no need to raise boards. Once the platform is assembled correctly, it rarely changes. Adjustable scaffold also has the features and accessories to provide a safe platform. It is not necessary to rig up the platform. Whether it is pilaster brackets, corner brackets, guardrail or some other feature necessary for a cut up wall, adjustable scaffold has it.

Is your adjustable scaffold legal to climb? If not, you need to have safe access to the platform. Many adjustable scaffolds have integral prefabricated scaffold frames for access. If you don’t think it is legal to climb, neither will the inspector. The tower needs to be uniform and unobstructed. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to climb the scaffold without looking at your feet. I am not saying that you should not watch where you are going, just that you shouldn’t have to. Give me a call or consult OSHA 1926.451 for specifications.

Maybe it is due to the economy that safety inspectors have more time to look at individual job sites. Maybe it is insurance related or the recent occurrence of some high-profile accidents. Whatever it is, safety is becoming more an issue than ever. It is an issue that can substantially affect the profit or cost of a job.

Vs. Mast Climbers

Since we manufacture both crank up and mast climbing adjustable scaffold, we can provide a better unbiased opinion as to which is better. True, crank up scaffold can’t touch mast climbers for labor savings. Mast Climbers are money-making machines when it comes to labor savings. That being said, crank up scaffold is much less expensive per linear foot. Also, the more cut up a wall is, the better a crank up scaffold works, compared to mast climbers. There is no perfect scaffold for every job (as hard as I try, we will never get rid of frames). Crank up is a more affordable way for you to achieve the benefits of an adjustable scaffold. Every penny counts.

A contractor told me the other day that it is just like he is starting over again. This is very similar to what I have been telling our employees. When we first started manufacturing and for many years after, until we got scaffold in virtually every market, we would pull a demonstration trailer of the scaffold to your office or job site. If I saw a guy bricking up a mailbox, I would stop and talk to him. No job or contractor was too big or too small. Over the last fifteen years, we have gotten spoiled. You couldn’t cross the street without finding someone who needed scaffold. Well times have changed. You need to be aggressive and creative. When you first started, you would go after everything and were constantly looking for an edge. Adjustable scaffold can be that edge.

Originally published in Masonry magazine.


About the Author

Clint Bridges is the Vice President of EZ Scaffold (www.ezscaffold.com).

 

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