Scaffolding is as much a part of an urban landscape as tall buildings are. Pedestrians dart in and out of them as they make their way around a city. Construction workers walk on the scaffolding while they do their work at the site. All of this is thanks to the universal coupler, which was invented over 100 years ago in 1919 by David Palmer Jones, according to LSN Learning. This integral part joins scaffolding pieces to this day.

The History

Scaffolding, in one form or another, has been around for not just centuries but millennia. The ancient Egyptians used structures like this as far back as 17,000 years ago, according to Scafom. The purpose was to have the people working on the pyramids use the scaffolding to move the giant stones that made up these historical wonders. The Egyptian scaffolds were rudimentary by today’s standards. They were made of wood and hemp rope and resembled stairs more than actual scaffolding. It was the Ancient Romans who took it to the next level and used scaffolding that was closer to what we use today.

A lot of familiar historical structures were created through the use of scaffolding. The Great Wall of China was one of them, using bamboo to create scaffolding that looked like the type that we see today, according to Scafom. Medieval-era monks also refined the design and appearance of the scaffolding. Originally, they created their own religious structures, like abbeys. Then their technology was used in other parts of their community.

We can fast-forward a bit through the Victorian era where they used timber and hemp rope to create the scaffolding. It still wasn’t terribly safe to use, which resulted in a lot of disasters. It wasn’t until modern times that safety began to be something that the construction field thought about. They replaced the wood with steel and aluminum water pipes. This greatly reduced the chances of things possibly collapsing. Western society uses these materials today!

The Couplers

In the past, when it came to securing the structure of the scaffolding, workers would lash rope around the corners and create extremely tight knots to keep everything in place. That made for a very wobbly experience and even the best-tied rope could wind up loosening or fraying, which would then result in the collapse of the scaffolding. The rope could also only hold a certain amount of weight and that could vary depending on the thickness of the rope. Of course, when the people in charge weren’t terribly concerned about the welfare of the people who were doing the job, that sort of thing was overlooked. There was no union to fight for their rights at the time.

That changed when two things happened: the technology improved and the workers began pushing for safer equipment. The scaffolding was assembled with things like the universal coupler, which allowed them to insert the tubes in a way to keep it in place and also fasten it so that it stayed put, even when people walked on it. It usually involves clamps and they can be made of different materials, depending on the size of the scaffolding itself. This allowed the workers to not have to worry about ropes keeping things intact. It also made it easier to assemble the scaffolding. As a result, the workers were able to save time both assembling and disassembling the scaffolding when they were both starting and finishing their jobs.

The Safety

Of course, scaffolding materials, including universal couplers, only play a part in local scaffolding solutions. Workers can construct the sturdiest scaffolds that they can and make sure that they are stable. That doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of possible falls or other injuries. There are other scaffolding hazards that they need to look out for while on the job.

Fall protection equipment is very important. Workers should be able to get this equipment and there should be a fall protection program in place. Construction management should also have training for the workers so that they can identify possible fall hazards and be shown the best ways to make situations safer. There needs to be guardrails and stable work surfaces. All the couplers need to be secure. Also, no worker should be left unsupervised on the scaffolding during off hours.

Let’s continue with the scaffolding example for our discussion about construction workplace safety. Training should also consist of knowing what weight limits the scaffolding can safely take before there’s any risk of collapse. The workers should also learn how to assemble the scaffolding and how to add couplers to keep the structure of the scaffolding intact and not at risk of falling apart at the slightest breeze.

There’s another danger with scaffolding that we haven’t discussed yet: falling items. Workers need to know how to keep their tools in areas where there’s little to no risk of them knocking them off the scaffolding and possibly hitting someone who is walking underneath. A hammer falling from a great height can be deadly. The workers need to know where their equipment is at all times and move their tools if it looks like they could be knocked off the scaffolding.

Part of common construction safety includes wearing proper protection to avoid being hurt by falling items. A hard hat can mean the difference between being left woozy by something falling on one’s head and possibly grievous injury or death. Management should stress that all workers wear these helmets. It’s also a matter of liability on their end. If they neglect to do that, they could face a serious lawsuit.

Ultimately, construction workers will use universal couplers to make scaffolding that is both sturdy and safe for them and anyone in the surrounding area. Besides using the coupler, they have to think of other parts of erecting the scaffolding, like properly setting up the base of the scaffolding so that it can hold the weight of both the people walking on it and any machinery or equipment that they use while they do their construction work. If they pay attention to this, it will make things much safer.

Over the years, construction equipment has evolved, with workers being able to use equipment that allows them to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. They can use machines to do work they did by hand before. While the machinery has improved, the universal coupler has withstood the test of time as far as scaffolding technology goes. As long as people are doing construction work, there will be the need for scaffolding, and the workers will be using couplers and other parts for their local scaffolding solutions. The result will be buildings being constructed on well-supported scaffolding.

Are you looking for local scaffolding solutions in your area? We can help you find the perfect ones for your situation. Contact us today at BETCO Scaffolds to learn more about our great services! We’re ready to help you start the safest construction project.