Working From Heights

By Robert Robillard on Contractor Advice

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Working at Heights On Residential Homes

As carpenters, we often have to perform repairs at heights.  On many homes, these repairs are quick and typically done off ladders, roof jack or ladder jacks. Working from heights can be dangerous, this article will address some considerations to stay safe.

The problem with these methods is they can be dangerous, do not provide a work surface, or tool set up area. When you stop to consider that 50 percent of falls are from less than six feet and approximately 70 percent of falls are from ladders and roofs and most of these injuries happen on residential building sites than any other workplace in the construction arena.

Factors Contributing to Fall injuries:

  • Lack of or inadequate planning and hazard assessment
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Insufficient training
  • Incorrect protection equipment
  • Incorrect use or set-up of equipment
  • Unwilling  to choose a safer alternative
  • Safe and suitable equipment being unavailable

Hard to Reach House Repairs – Elevated Heights

This Working From Heights article will address two methods, pipe staging scaffolding, and aerial lifts, that we use to reach tough access areas as well as working at heights. Aerial lifts and pipe staging are commonly used in construction, maintenance, inspection, and repair services to lift employees to an elevated work position.

schaffolding pipe staging

Pipe Staging:

One Working From Heights solution is pipe staging or framed scaffolds. This method offers several advantages over ladders or ladder-jack assemblies by providing a wider, more stable work platform.

Working from scaffolding is much easier and safer than working from a ladder.  The stability and comfort of working from a wide work platform allow you to do a better job in half the time.

Assembly pipe staging is more time-consuming because it involves assembling frames and cross braces that stack to make taller units. The most common frame section is 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall with cross braces 7 or 10 feet long. Other sizes are available. They also can be fastened to the structure for stability and feature guardrails to protect you from falling.

In addition to base plates and guardrails, we use adjustable feet that adjust by screwing for easy leveling on uneven ground.

Work Platform Planks

Special fitting work platform planks provide the work floor of the assembly, and two planks typically fill in one frame section.

TIP – When you are computing your working height, figure placing the work platform 4 to 6 feet below what you need to work on.  This places the work at your midsection and in your core strength area, guardrails attached to the top of the scaffold frames allow you to work safely and concentrate on the task.

We have three sections of pipe staging in our work truck which is usually tall enough to work on most residential homes. The times where we run into problems is when a house has a walkout basement, making it taller, and other projections in the way, prohibiting basic pipe staging assembly.

In these cases we have a choice;  hire a scaffolding company to professionally setup staging in our hard to access area, which is costly  [$2-5,000] or rent an aerial list to reach the area.scaffolding pipe staging

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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